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Theater of War

Track Listing
1. "Sanctuary" - 4:45
2. "Theater of War" - 4:46
3. "Traces of Grace" - 5:25
4. "Wisdom" - 5:34
5. "The Warning" - 4:21
6. "Sarah Williams" - 7:07
7. "De Machina Est Deo" - 3:42
8. "Black Souls" - 3:50
9. "Critical Mass" - 5:25

Metal Blade 2001

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Other Releases:
Jacobs Dream (2000)
Related Releases (sound):
Fates Warning (Arch-era)
Iron Maiden (1980s)
Queensryche (The Warning)


Jacobs Dream's self-titled 2000 debut was an excellent American power metal release that effectively combined various aspects of Fates Warning, Iron Maiden and Queensryche. I will admit that mixing Maiden, 'Ryche and Fates Warning is kind of like mixing a golden retriever, a Labrador retriever and a Chesapeake Bay retriever: In the end, you still end up with a retriever. While merging influences from the aforementioned bands isn't exactly breaking any new boundaries, with Jacobs Dream you still get a good band (even though their formula doesn't work for every band). Some detractors would say that originality isn't Jacobs Dream's strongest attribute and to a degree, I concede that point. In the end, however, I don't care how Jacobs Dream arrived at their sound. An album should be judged by the songs, not by who the band sounds like. Jacobs Dream write great songs and that's what counts.

Track seven, "Sarah Williams", is the best song on the CD. It's a powerful ballad that tells the story of a young lady who was killed by a drunk driver and it's told through the apologetic drunk's point of view. This makes this song an emotional powerhouse. Other strong songs include "Traces of Grace", a compelling, swiftly moving song with an almost Metallica-like opening, and "Sanctuary", a fierce rocker with excellent vocal melodies, especially the chorus. Track six, the excellent "De Machina Est Deo", is an instrumental that recalls many European power metal bands as it moves furiously and "Wisdom", which showcases muscular riffs, is one of many tunes on this disc that expertly changes pace several times. The vigorous "Theater of War" again shows the bands ability to change pace quickly as the song moves from slow to fast to slow again while "The Warning" moves briskly with a brawny riff that carries the song throughout. "Black Souls"is aggressive, fast and brutal but lacks engaging vocal melodies while "Critical Mass" is heavy and aggressive, but like "Black Souls", suffers from the lack of strong melodies.

Vocalist David Taylor does sound like a cross between Maiden's Bruce Dickinson and Queensryche's Geoff Tate. I like the combination, though some do find Taylor's falsetto to be annoying. As for the vocal melodies, they remind me of both Queensryche and Fates Warning while the music is reminiscent of Queensryche, Iron Maiden and even Metallica (the Metallica similarities aren't major). I may be drawing upon too many comparisons in an attempt to give the listener a good idea of what the band sounds like and while my constant comparisons to Iron Maiden and Queensryche are probably a bit overboard, I do need to point out that Jacobs Dream does clearly have their own style even though the band clearly has their influences. I really like this album. The strong song writing and the engaging performances make Theater of War as strong as the debut.

Rating: 8.3
(another strong release from Jacobs Dream)
Review by Joseph White-

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