Metal Dreams, Vol. 2
Nuclear Blast, 2000
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/26/2005
Die-hard metalheads will undoubtedly state, in unison, that ballads are poison. For sure, they sent me screaming from the radio back in 1984, when I was just getting my first tastes of forbidden fruits like Van Halen.
Yet numerous metal bands out there will tell you that you can do a song without having all gears burning out and still maintain your heaviness. This seems to be the premise for the collection Metal Dreams, Vol. 2, which has been in my collection for some time now, but I'm only now getting to.
Granted, the only time any of the 16 featured bands dip into true "ballad" territory is when Mr. Big plays their hit "To Be With You" -- and that should relieve the minds of many hard-core metal fans. Yet this collection does turn down the intensity and presents a somewhat interesting look at a much-maligned genre of music. The only thing this collection doesn't do is inspire you to purchase other CDs from these groups -- and, in that regard, the compilation does fail.
Besides Mr. Big, those who only know a little about metal will be comforted by the presence of Skid Row and their hit "18 And Life." Many of the other groups might be new names, but there really isn't a bad track among them.
Sure, everyone who listens to this disc will find their favorites - and maybe even a track or two they can live without. After spending some time listening to this one, I found myself going back to Nightwish's "Sleeping Sun," Iced Earth's "I Died For You" and Sinner's "Destiny". Bonfire also impressed me with "Goodnight Amanda." Meanwhile, I personally would have left off "Nightfall" from Blind Guardian -- not a bad track, mind you, but just not my particular favorite style.
Yet I can't say that Metal Dreams, Vol. 2 sends me into a frenzy of purchasing more CDs -- though, with a few of these artists lingering in my "should have reviewed by now" pile, I am a little more likely to dust them off and give them some attention. So, while I won't be buying anything from Love Like Blood or Macbeth, I may be soon cranking out older discs from To Die For and Sinner. (The jury is still out, though, on Iced Earth -- they may take a Jackson or two from my wallet.)
Maybe the purpose of this collection was to promote numerous lesser-known metal acts and gain attention to them -- in this regard, mission accomplished. Maybe the purpose was to show skeptics that metal doesn't have to be hundreds of beats a minute to be heavy, and that a lighter touch on the tempo can still be as enjoyable. Mission also accomplished.
I don't know if Metal Dreams, Vol. 2 is presently in print, but it does serve as a good primer to numerous bands, and is a reminder that, yes, even in the metal world, there exists some version that everyone can enjoy.