Hailing from the land down under, Australian power metallers Dragonsclaw are back with their sophomore album titled Judgement Day. Led by powerhouse vocalist Giles Lavery, the band line up includes Ben Thomas on guitar, Aaron Bryn Thomas on bass, Ray Martens on keyboards, and Alcides “Seed” Stowe on the drums.
The album starts off on an aggressive note with the powerful and speedy anthem Watching My Every Move. Former Accept/Bangalore Choir and current Tango Down vocalist David Reece join Lavery on lead vocals. Reece and Lavery’s voices compliment each other extremely well and the song is quite the headbanger with a killer guitar solo by Thomas and some fine drum work from Stowe.
The second track Onset of War starts with a serene keyboard/acoustic guitar intro slowly building in intensity to a fist pumping metal climax and goes into the title track. Lavery’s upper register is in fine form here with some ear piercing screams that would make Rob Halford proud! The next track Bullet has an 80’s old school metal vibe with a great riff and a powerful hook in the mold of Judas Priest and Riot. The tempo slows down on Fear, which is an eerie and ominous track with an intense vibe and lavery’s powerful pipes shining through. Fly is another 80’s metal-esque rocker with a great guitar hook and lightning fast guitar licks. You can really hear the Riot (Thundersteel era) influence on this one. Speaking of influences, the band includes a cover of one of their biggest progressive metal influences, Warlord on Lucifer’s Hammer, which is ironic since Lavery was tapped to take the lead vocalist spot for Warlord on their recent tour. The metal influences keep coming as Dragonsclaw pay respect to one of their fallen idols, Mark Reale of Riot on the powerful tribute titled Battle Cry, which is loaded with clever references to various Riot songs and albums within the lyrics and features a blazing guest guitar solo from former Virgin Steele guitarist Jack Starr. Reale would be proud to know his name and legacy lives on through the bands he influenced. The albums final track Eternally, a mid tempo rocker where the Martens keyboards are featured higher in the mix and also features a great guitar harmony lead in the style of Maiden/Priest. As a whole, I found Judgement Day to be an enjoyable album (although a little short in my opinion, but a minor critique) and a worthy follow up to their debut album Prophecy. Dragonsclaw is definitely a power metal band to watch in the future.