Earlier this year I had my first exposure to Dreamland via their sophomore release Eye for an Eye. When this album arrived on my doorstep I popped it in thinking it was a new album. It isn't.
It is kind of hard to keep some of these band's releases straight as many European metal acts are just now finding their distribution for the US, and that doesn't automatically translate to albums being released in the proper order. This is a good example of that. Eye for an Eye saw its debut in June of this year, just a few months removed from its original European release in March. Meanwhile, their 2005 debut album, Future's Calling, arrived in the States at the end of July.
What tipped me off was the music. As I began to listen to the album I noticed that it sounded a bit lighter than their other release. It is not a bad album, but it is definitely a mediocre release.
Dreamland began their career as Infinity back in 2003. Shortly thereafter the name was changed to Dreamland and they caught the eye of Hammerfall vocalist Joacim Cans. Cans' interest led to Dreamland landing a record deal and getting Andy Larocque to produce. The result of that is the truly mediocre metal of Future's Calling.
What else need be said? This is a completely mediocre effort that will not likely be remembered among the greats. Although, I am not terribly sure that was their goal. The problem that Dreamland has, on both of their albums, is that while they seem to be very technically proficient, well produced, and seem to have the innate desire to deliver, the music plays it safe. This is not a band that is going to stretch the boundaries of the power metal or heavy metal. That said, Future's Calling is still a satisfying album.
Funny isn't it? The music is solid, tight, performed well, and has potential. While I can respect the good aspects, I do not find it to grab me and truly hold my attention. As background music, it works. If you are looking for something to put in between your Maiden and your Iced Earth, Dreamland could work as the stop gap to get you between the two. You won't lose any metal steam, but you won't wear yourself out with too much good stuff in a row. You know, break it up a little bit.
The funny thing about this album is that during my first pass through it I was at work and had the volume on relatively low (so as not to disturb the non-metal fans around me) and I would have sworn I was listening to Dokken. Yes, Dokken of all bands. Of course, they don't really sound like them. However, there is a distinct air of the eighties around this album. The more I listen, the less Dokken I hear and the more Helloween creeps out.
Future's Calling is not a bad disk. This debut just fails to step out in any new direction. It fails to stand out from the pack and make me want to come back to it. Sure, it is easy to listen to and it is easy to like, but music is not always about being easy. Sometimes we need some challenging music and Dreamland seems to content to rest back and let the conventions that have built up over the near three decades of heavy metal conventions pave their way.
Despite the play it safe style employed, there is no denying the talent involved. The five piece play as a tight unit led by Jake E (aka Joacim Lundberg) on vocals. His voice is quite good, there is nice strength to it even if the words don't stand out. There are a couple of nice solos and drumming throughout, and a good dose of melodic playing. Standout songs include "Hearts Like Lions," the ballad "Fade Away," "Dreamland," and the oddly timed title track: "Future's Calling."
Bottomline. Future's Calling goes down smooth but before you can switch to the next album you will likely have forgotten much of it. There is a step up from this to Eye for an Eye, but it doesn't change the fact that Dreamland is a mediocre band with the dreaded "potential" label affixed to them (at least in my eyes).