Band: Dexter Ward
Album: Rendezvous with Destiny
Genre: Heavy/Power Metal
Label: No Remorse Records
Dexter Ward, named after the novel by metal’s second-favourite literary benefactor (that would be Lovecraft), are a Greek heavy metal band formed within the last decade who have just released their second full-length album. The album is a pastiche of war stories, told from various perspectives and in various times, and not limited to the past either. From the ancient story of the “Stone Age Warriors” up through the “Ballad of the Green Berets” we are given a series of epic and fantastic tales told by the victors themselves. And you’d think with this kind of subject matter, you would expect something a little more than just run-of-the-mill heavy metal. Fortunately, Dexter Ward certainly deliver on this count.
You see, this isn’t just regular old heavy metal. It’s slower. It’s heavier. Not only that, but it’s melodic as well, and the rich vocal harmonies that come in during the choruses really amp up the delivery significantly. And whilst this isn’t power metal (even though it may sound like that thus far) it certainly does have that vibe in a number of places. The production is remarkably clean, but in a way that complements the sound as opposed to detracting from it. This is a tough line to walk though, and it seems that relatively few bands who opt to go the clean and melodic route are able to pull it off without venturing into silliness. But this album walks that line well and the better tracks are a fantastic blueprint for exactly how to do this.
Maybe this is my own personal bias showing through, but where Dexter Ward are at their best is when they are taking their songwriting seriously. This means not only fitting the lyrics to the music, but also making sure that the music isn’t rushed. And since epic tales demand time to tell properly (you can’t reasonably write a three-minute song on thirty-year war) it stands to reason that their longest songs would be the best. And that’s exactly what we have here. The album’s highlights are right in the middle with the back-to-back couplet of “Fighting for the Cross” and “Knights of Jerusalem” which together total twelve minutes and tell the story of the Crusaders travelling to Palestine to extricate the Saracens. The beauty of the songwriting of these two pieces is perhaps highlighted in a negative way with the silly and vapid follow-up track, “We Are Dexter Ward” which plays like an eighties movie anthem and pretty much kills whatever buzz you got from the previous songs.
I realise that not every metal song needs to be of the same intensity and magnitude, but when you’re good at something, you should write songs that play to your strengths. I feel like half of this album falls into that category whilst the rest is mostly forgettable. Even so, the strong tracks are really strong and folks who like the cleaner, slower type of metal with an epic twist should check this album out.
Check ’em out here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dexter-Ward/112208518802441