Dreamtale - Difference
Spinefarm Records
Melodic Power Metal
12 songs (51'53)
Release year: 2005
Dreamtale, Spinefarm Records
Reviewed by Marty
Finland's Dreamtale are back with their third album Difference. It also marks the debut of vocalist Jarkko Ahola who takes the place of departed original vocalist Tomi Viiltola. However, both Jarkko Ahola and founding member/guitarist Esa Orjatsalo have since left the band just after the recording was completed for this new album. With band members bailing out and a virtual revolving door of vocalists coming in and out of this band, you have to wonder what the future holds for Dreamtale. With Difference, Dreamtale once again has delivered another solid, melodic power metal album yet shows much more diversity in sound over previous efforts. Sanna Natunen again provides some female backing vocals on a few tracks as she did with Ocean's Heart and the album was largely recorded and produced by Stratovarius' Timi Tolkki at his new Goldenworks Studios in Helsinki, Finland.

I enjoyed their last album, Ocean's Heart but what could've made for an excellent album as opposed to just a good one would've been better vocal performances. Dreamtale's music and song writing skills are excellent but when a singer can't deliver the proper vocal that the songs require, the whole process seems somewhat futile with the promise of limited success. With the number of bands out there in the same genre and with the stiff competition, any melodic power metal band must have a solid vocalist to survive. So, the question now becomes, how does Dreamtale sound with Jarkko Ahola? Although Jarkko has more of a "throaty" Dio style to his voice and sounds a lot like Stryper's Michael Sweet, he strains at times and once again, the problems with Dreamtale not getting a top notch vocal performance rear their ugly head. This was a very important album for the band and the variation in styles of songs is indicative that they really tried hard to diversify their sound and move away from just the speedy Stratovarius, Sonata Arctica style of the Ocean's Heart album. With the first five songs on Difference, we see a very different style for each track. There's some Scorpions influence with the chorus to Lost Souls, a speedy power metal track with sprinkles of keyboards. Up next is a Yngwie/Stratovarius inspired neo-classical odyssey called Wings Of Icarus. Then, we get a mid tempo melodic heavy metal track with celtic influences entitled New Life, a more atmospheric prog metal track that has a big, dramatic Nightwish feel with Lucid Times and a soaring power ballad called Mirror that has a great, strong vocal by Jarkko. Dreamtale's fondness for the speedy Stratovarius/Sonata Arctica style appears again with tracks like World's Child, Secret Door and We Are One. The use of layered vocals and richly melodic choruses really does bring out a strong Sonata Arctica influence with Dreamtale. More acoustic guitar is used on this album than in the past with Sail Away being a totally acoustic track with a very 70's Uriah Heep like sound. The final track, Green Fields uses acoustic guitar passages with recorders and a flute to create a nice atmospheric effect. The track eventually gets heavier and again, celtic influenced riffs are used. On some versions of this album, the bonus track Powerplay is included.

Production wise, Timo has done a solid job with the band sounding better than ever. Lots of melodic lead guitar graces many tracks and there's lots of tempo and mood changes with several tracks using dreamy piano interludes mid song. Dreamtale's songs are of very high quality with just about every track having a great and hugely melodic chorus. Jarkko Ahola's voice sounds great for most of the choruses but it does fall short with the verse sections on several tracks. His voice on the first track Lost Souls made me cringe in several spots. The album does get better but that was a poor choice of an opening track. There's lots of great songs on this album and Dreamtale has so much potential. The problem is, how many chances are they going to get before they find themselves without a label and back to square one. With that scenario, they may never get another chance. The "branching" out that I see with this album is a good thing and it shows that they can also do melodic heavy metal, prog metal and more acoustically flavored material as well as the speedy power metal. Dreamtale's music really is so much better than the vocal performances that they have been getting on record thus far. With a solid and well- rounded vocalist, the possibilities of Dreamtale making a big impact on the power metal scene are huge. If you can ignore some of the shortcomings with Difference from a vocal standpoint, you're still left with a very good album that has more than enough for power metal fans to enjoy. Dreamtale are currently looking for a new vocalist and let's hope that they choose wisely. They may only get one more shot at it and it would be a shame for them to not get off the ground simply due to the lack of a great vocalist to round this otherwise very good band.

Killing Songs :
Wings Of Icarus, Lucid Times, Mirror and World's Child
Marty quoted 78 / 100
Other albums by Dreamtale that we have reviewed:
Dreamtale - Ocean's Heart reviewed by Marty and quoted 78 / 100
Dreamtale - Beyond Reality reviewed by Chris and quoted 85 / 100
Dreamtale - Refuge From Reality (Demo) reviewed by Chris and quoted 80 / 100
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