THE FINAL CHAPTER
Review by Spiritech, BlastWave ‘Zine
Formed in 1989 in the town of Broken Hill, Australia, melodic Metallers Dungeon grew to become one of the country’s best and most loved Metal outfits. In their lengthy career they produced several top-notch releases and toured with plenty of huge acts, their popularity increasing with each outing. However, after numerous line-up changes in 2005, vocalist/guitarist and founding member “Lord Tim” Grose decided to end the project, but subsequently announced that the band would essentially continue with new members under the name LORD.
Before completely moving on to LORD though, Grose felt it necessary to record one final album as Dungeon. The result is the infectious “The Final Chapter”, a fantastic ending to their legacy. It’s also a record with a large amount of depth, improving with extra listens. There’s loads of little nuances all over the place, not to mention grand touches like Latin choirs, orchestral elements, female guest vocals, layers and more to sink your teeth into. The production is also very good; the guitar tone is especially powerful. The only complaint in this department would be that the vocals appear to be too low in the mix occasionally, but this will be rectified on future pressings.
Cracking opener ‘Pariah’ immediately puts paid to the misconception that Dungeon were strictly a Power Metal band. Instead, there are huge helpings of Thrash, melodic Death and traditional Metal. The combination of a stand out riff, huge harmonies and Tim Yatras’ complex drumming show that Dungeon could Thrash out nicely. Later cuts also bring out more AOR and Prog Metal influences, resulting in a diverse but still coherent release that’s as tight as a nun’s you-know-what.
The Hard Rock-styled ‘Better Man’ is one of the catchiest things you’ll hear any time soon; the chorus and harmonized guitars are irresistible. Its “live well, or life will bite you in the arse” lyrical sentiment will ring true for a lot of listeners. “The Final Chapter” also possesses its share of more sizeable cuts, the highlights of which are ‘Curse Of The Pharaohs’, complete with gigantic AOR-style chorus and epic vibe, and ‘Life Is A Lie’, which if there is any justice would be played live with thousands of lighters in the air! The lengthier tracks may wear a few folks’ patience thin, but melodic Metal fans will be in heaven.
Other cuts don’t let the side down. The lovingly constructed ‘Gallipoli’ is the kind of wartime history lesson that Iron Maiden used to write, inspiring kids everywhere to pick up their school books. The melodies and neat soloing of songs like ‘Fire Of Time’ and Lord Tim’s soaring vocals on virtually every cut are all classic Dungeon.
One song that sticks out is ‘Steelheart’. While essentially a big dumb ’80s Hard Rock song, complete with cheesy lyrics and guitars, not forgetting the even cheesier stadium Rock-driven “wooahhhh”s, it’s fun and breaks up the album. The ten-minute title track is back to serious business though and is a fitting end to the album proper and Dungeon’s career overall, telling the band’s story through the use of previous album titles and the like. The lyrics could well be highly inspirational for those who have undertaken their own journeys in life and drummer Yatras impresses again here.
The two bonus tracks also serve as a neat bookend here, as both are early tracks re-recorded. There’s “Don’t Leave Me”, originally recorded in 1990 and “Changing Moods”, taken from the 1995 EP of the same name. “Changing Moods” is the better of the two with its outstanding sense of melody and lead work, but both are classy updates on long-time favourites, complete with the kind of production values they always deserved but never had before. Drumming freaks will be impressed with Yatras’ performance on this one, as he matches the efforts of virtuoso Virgil Donati who played on the original version.
If you’ve never heard Dungeon before but are interested to get a summation of their career, “The Final Chapter” is a great place to begin as it brings everything that was great about the band together, while not just being a recycling of past achievements. With over an hour of music available, fans will find plenty to love here. While it may be a little sad to let go, rest assured that the band’s ethos will live on with LORD.
Review by Pyro, Pyromusic.net
Since 1995’s ‘Changing Moods‘ EP, Dungeon have progressed immensely as a band. Having established themselves as one of Australia’s biggest and best live acts, with a handful of great albums to back up the reputation, 2006 marks the last output to bear the Dungeon name. When I listen to ‘The Final Chapter’ it’s almost impossible to mentally compare it to previous Dungeon outputs. I just can’t do it. I loved 2004’s ‘One Step Beyond’. Though it took quite some time to fully get into, and was a fair change from ‘A Rise To Power’, it was still Dungeon, and in the end I grew to really enjoy it. For me, ‘The Final Chapter’ is worlds away from anything Dungeon have recorded prior to now and continues what was stated with ‘One Step Beyond’. It’s technically superior, its far more dynamic and complex, the musicianship is excellent and the songwriting is highly evolved. Whether or not fans will find ‘The Final Chapter’ to have its ‘Insanity’s Fall’, ‘I Am Death’, ‘Stomchaser’, ‘Wake Up’, ‘The Other Side’, ‘Paradise’ etc is really going to vary on a case-by-case basis, but it is clear that ‘The Final Chapter’ is an impressive and fitting end to an admiral career and absolutely essential for Dungeon fans.
With a total of eight album tracks, and two re-recorded bonuses, ‘The Final Chapter’ is a variable smorgasboard of melodic, powerful, thrashy goodness, showing a side of Dungeon previously unrevealed. While not without its share of cheese, the songwriting and musicianship on ‘The Final Chapter’ is deadly-serious and highly evolved. Songs themselves average almost 7 minutes a pop and easily maintain their firm grip from beginning to end. With probably 40-50 plays behind me at the time of writing this review, I’ve found myself singing along at select moments every single time I’ve listened to ‘The Final Chapter’. Some of the initial impact has been lost, but the rigid backbone is as strong as ever. In addition to the great vocal melodies and infectious choruses which beg to be accented with listener participation, come the impeccable riff-writing skills of Tim Grose and very expansive, deadly accurate, intricate drumming of Tim Yatras. One word. TIGHT.
‘The Final Chapter is quite consistent, but what really catapults it upward are the soaring highlights. For me, the most notable of these are the opening of ‘Life Is A Lie’, the choruses of ‘Fire Of Time’ and ‘Better Man’ and a couple of the alluring riffs and delicious solos, but each listener will find their own favourites. However, being the “I like their old shit better” type of guy that I am, I know full-well that I’m going to spend a lot more time in the future enjoying older Dungeon releases as I’ve already flogged this latest effort excessively and its began to lose impact. Regardless, ‘The Final Chapter’ is a great album and a worthy inclusion in an excellent discography. It’s rock-solid from beginning to end (save for maybe ‘Steelheart’ which I still can’t bring myself to consider as an album track due to its written-shamelessly-for-the-live-front nature, and lack of depth, but it’s doing exactly what it was intelligently written to do, so its still worthy of credit). The re-recorded ”Changing Moods’ and ‘Don’t Leave Me’ wrap things up nicely and topping it all off; easily the best album cover to grace a Dungeon release.
If you like Dungeon, you will like ‘The Final Chapter’. That’s the long and short of it. Be warned, this is the kind of album that’s going to get stuck in your head for days on end.
Review by Peter Fundeis, Screaming Symphony
Dungeon’s ‘The Final Chapter’ is an album to finish a musical chapter for a band of the highest rank in Australia’s metal history. Ok, I could now waffle on about support the local music and buy whatever, whatever, and last but not least I could just repay a favour to a band that was always here to help when Screaming Symphony asked for help but instead I decided to make this as simple and honest as I possibly can. First, Lord Tim produced this album single-handedly and you can hear that especially in the guitar department. I don’t want to take anything away from this album by saying that the production is somewhat hindered by budget hurdles but the same applied in the previous efforts of Dungeon and if anything, it caused the Dungeon releases to sound different in an unpolished kind of way. Also the production shortcomings have not stopped the band from getting signed with a world-wide deal and touring all around the world. It is a fact that Lord Tim actually played almost everything you can hear on this disc, apart from the drums. Further, he basically wrote all of the music with the exception of some co-writing of his LORD drummer Tim Yatras for the occasion and ex Dungeon member Stu contributed on one of the songs. Also there have been some guest appearances from his other LORD helpers but let’s face it, this is Lord Tim in good old Dungeon fashion. And good old Dungeon fashion it is. The combination of thrash guitar riffing and slam drumming combined with melody saturated guitar solos and the high pitched clean vocal of LT are just what the doctor ordered. There are a couple of power ballads amongst the 66 minutes of music and by Dungeon standards, quite a bit of keyboards but overall I would go as far as calling this the most colourful and power metal saturated Dungeon release to date. If you are a Dungeon fan, you would have to get this album as this is in my humble opinion, their greatest works to date. Lord Tim has kept the best till last and the 10 tracks of ‘The Final Chapter’ are hammering that fact into all of the listeners brains. Just choosing a song of this Modern Invasion release was kind of difficult especially as there are lots of brilliant songs on here, just check out the monstrous piece called ‘Gallipoli’! Hopefully, after this release there are not just ghosts left behind by the vanishing of one of the greatest metal acts Australia has seen.
Review by Pyro, PyroMusic.net
Take note labels and bands. This is how to re-release an album.
Dungeon are currently riding the waves of success generated by their utterly-successful (and damn good) ‘One Step Beyond’. The band (now two lineup changes into the year) have just embarked on a second world tour, highlights of which are set include the fulfilment of a personal invitation by Dave Mustaine for Dungeon to tour with the almighty Megadeth in Europe and a selection of shows with Metal Church. So much activity has been going on in the Dungeon camp these past months that I’m surprised Tim hasn’t lost his marbles. What’s even more amazing is (although late), time has been found to pretty much re-record, re-mix, re-master and re-package Dungeon’s 1999 true debut full-length, ‘Resurrection’.
With the newfound injection of fans stemming from the very-late-2004 release of ‘One Step Beyond’ and a successful stint supporting Megadeth on their Aussie ‘Blackmail The Universe’ tour, fans after more of Dungeon’s studio material didn’t have a whole lot to chose from. ‘Demolition’ has been out of print for years, ‘Resurrection’ had also sold out, leaving little choice for actual studio albums. ‘A Rise To Power’ was it. Finally, the album that really solidified Dungeon as the momentous metal force that they are is available again. What’s more is that it has been completely re-done and improved in countless areas. What this means is that whether you own the original or missed out on it, you need this album. Period.
This is the way the original ‘Resurrection’ should have been. The production has gone from sounding cheap and tinny (which I admit was part of the reason I was drawn to the original, especially for some of the guitar tones) to clean, crisp, clear and heavy. Every drum kick punches out with impressive force, each fresh riff absolutely shreds, lead and backing vocals are bang-on, soaring to new heights. It’s pretty clear that with technology, the band have also improved dramatically (both vocally and musically) in these past years. Almost everything is new from solos to backing vocals, through to the mix and even a completely new/re-worked ‘Let It Go’ replacement track ‘Severed Ties’. The only cheese that has survived the re-Resurrection outside of lyrical content comes in the form of the album art which has been created by the ever-budget-conscious founding member AND lead guitarist AND vocalist AND bassist AND mixer (Lord) Tim Grose. It wouldn’t be Dungeon without cheese. “Save some bucks and do it yourself” seems to be a motto the man lives by and rightfully so. I’ve got no doubt that if it wasn’t for his wise (lack of) spending, Dungeon wouldn’t currently be on a world tour. (Rip it up guys and good fucking work! You’ll be coming home with thousands of new fans.)
I’m reminded a little of a certain man named George (or perhaps I will just call him Mr Lucas) when listening to ‘Resurrection’. I’ve got no qualms comparing this to the 1997 re-release of the classic Star Wars trilogy. In fact, the improvements and changes are far more forceful on ‘Resurrection’ than the trio of films combined – it just sounds so fucking good. Enough life has been breathed into every song that owning this truly is a must for those with the original release and those without.
If you haven’t heard ‘Resurrection’ in the past, what you have missed is some of the best Thrash-flavoured Power Metal you’re likely to come across. Fantastic vocals combine with very large double doses of guitar wankery (which includes some of the most inventive, original and memorable solos and riffs I have heard a metal record) to deliver quite a remarkable record. Tracks like ‘Resurrection’, ‘I Am Death’ and ‘Wake Up’ are instant classics and are testament to the songwriting skills of the band.
The only possible complaint I can come up with is that the original recording isn’t included as a bonus disc (which I admit is asking too much but when the music has changed so drastically, a version for everyone who missed out on the original would really add incentive for making the purchase). Everyone will feel differently about 2005’s ‘Resurrection’ but will agree that overall it absolutely walks all over the original. The only thing I miss is the old sound of ‘Wake Up’ but in saying that, the new version has had enough life breathed into it that it stands strong as a completely new song and sounds great for it.
Dungeon fans, you must own ‘Resurrection’. Every track has had so much fresh flavour injected that it will really feel like you’re listening to an entirely different album. If you’ve never heard Dungeon (I pity you) this is a bloody great place to start. Two very big thumbs up!
Review by JJ La Whore, Sinister Online
OK, bias alert. I am a huge fan of Aussie metal, these guys come from the same small western NSW town as me and my first interest in heavy metal as a youngster was in Iron Maiden. This wicked reissue is on my playlist, a lot.
First off, Tim and the guys back in the day were really not happy with the first incarnation of this record and so while doing the “One Step Beyond” (their second full length album) sessions they re-recorded their first album for their new international label Modern Invasion and it’s so satisfying to hear this record receive the production that modern power metal needs to take it to the international stage.
For those that don’t know, Lord Tim and Stu are probably the best metal guitar duo Australia has ever seen. It’s easy to write sweeping statements like that, but as a guitarist of nearly 20 years and an Aussie metal fan for almost as long, I think I can qualify that statement by merely asking you to check out the first version of this record and compare it to this one. Stunning.
I remember talking with some Sydney metal radio folks back in the day about how awesome this record would have been if it had the production values of an Iced Earth or the like. It’s received them and now it’s perfectly clear to me that Australian metal bands are not only every bit as good as our overseas counterparts, but in some cases, even better.
Reissue/re-recording done right!
ONE STEP BEYOND
Review by Pyro, PyroMusic.net
‘No Bullshit. Just Play.’ – the 2 second narrative before the opening track of ‘One Step Beyond’ gets into full swing. I couldn’t have thought of a better description to Dungeon’s latest offering myself. Having recently caught Dungeon at Metal For The Brain 2005 (killer show too) I feel now is the perfect time to review ‘One Step Beyond’. If you’re not aware of who Dungeon are you’re probably a lost cause so I’m going to get straight into the music.
‘One Step Beyond’ gets off to a ripper start with the first two songs ‘The Power Within’ and ‘Against The Wind’ both of which are perfect examples of everything that makes melodic power great and really provide a fantastic opening to an epic album. Tim’s awesome vocals combine seamlessly with his own magic hands and those of Stu, powerful (often quite personal and emotive) lyrics, great bass work and very tight drumming to create some truly memorable melodies.
‘The Art Of War’ is the third of nine tracks and sure to be a favourite among fans with a sincerely impacting, headbangingly heavy opening and intense riffs to get things moving. It’s definitely best enjoyed very loud and really shows the strong thrash influence that has crept onto the album and been integrated brilliantly with the dominating melodies. Another track that’s sure to be a fan favourite is patriotic ‘Under The Cross’ but with such a varying mix of strong tracks which pack some nice surprises, everyone is sure to have different favourites.
The entire album is made to be played live. Dungeon are officially Australia’s best live band and it’s really no wonder why. The tracks of ‘One Step Beyond’ feature so much energy and are executed with such a level of skill that they sound as good live as in the studio. ‘One Step Beyond’ goes from strength to strength with brilliant riffing, fantastic solos, strong melodic vocals, catchy choruses and intense drumming. Lord Tim produced the entire album himself (much to the dismay of his sleeping patterns I’m sure) and has done a great and very professional job. The overall sound of the album is clean, crisp and clear and impacting. In addition to the beautiful harmonies is some seriously heavy shit and strong elements of thrash. Dungeon Fan Page‘s ability to marry melody with speed and power with such adept skill is testament to their brilliance as both musicians and songwriters.
One of 2004’s last releases is also one of the years best. Congratulations to Tim, Stu, Stevo and Dakk on a fantastic album and good luck to the new (new) members upholding the brilliant level of quality music Dungeon are famous for.
If you’re a fan of melodic power metal or great metal in general, you’d be a disgrace to yourself and your fellow metalheads if you do not own a copy of ‘One Step Beyond’. Album number three from Dungeon Band is their heaviest, thrashiest, greatest offering to date and is a remarkable piece of Aussie metal which solidifies Dungeon’s place as one of the greatest metal bands on earth.
‘One Step Beyond’ is magic.
Review by Goreripper, LOUD! Online
Dungeon’s long-awaited new album is an absolute killer. From the fantastic artwork to the incredible production to the glorious swathes of metal the band carves out across its one-hour-plus running time, there can be no denying that A Rise to Power is unquestionably one of the albums of the year, and quite possibly one of the best examples of Australian metal yet recorded. Guitar fans will absolutely love this; the shredding is almost unbridled in some places and jaw-droppingly unbelievable in tracks like ‘Lost in the Light’, ‘Where Madness Hides’ and the title cut, but never does Dungeon allow histrionic guitar-playing to exist merely as an excuse for a song. Indeed A Rise to Power is as good an example of substance over style and restraint over self-indulgence as one is likely to find in the power metal field, so densely populated as it is with bands with too much show and no go. For A Rise to Power has songs too, a whole album of them, and so many good ones it’s hard to pick the best. Between the straight-forward gallop of ‘Stormchaser’, the elaborate mini-epics like ‘Netherlife’ and the strikingly un-Dungeonlike thrash metal work-out ‘Traumatised’, this album is one headbanging delight after another that just gets better and better with every listen. No stone has been left unturned in Dungeon’s quest to make an album that could stand alongside the world’s best: immaculate production, breathtaking multi-part vocal harmonies, feverish drumming, awesome songs that are both melodic and heavy and, as noted, loads and loads of brilliant guitar solos! Capping it all off are covers of Maiden’s ‘Wasted Years’ and Queensryche’s ‘Queen of the Reich’ that are executed with the same alarming Dungeon precision as the rest of the album. A Rise to Power is, simply, amazing.