Quicksand Dream’s Beheading Tyrants is an album 16 years in the making. That’s right, sixteen years. No extra number placed there by mistake; the Swedish band’s debut, Aelin, came out back in 2000, and that record was limited to a pressing of 30 copies. It wasn’t until 2010 that it even got a wide release, so this is the first really major exposure Quicksand Dream have gotten that didn’t require a decade wait between pressings.
Such a space between records hasn’t translated to a overstuffed product, as the band keeps Beheading Tyrants to a few seconds over 31 minutes. However long they spent in the studio and/or compiling ideas for the six songs that would be on the album, the band chose wisely with their track listing. The album’s pacing is one of its strongest suits, as the energetic anthems are aligned with the broad heavy metal strokes that create a vivid canvas.
The band has been given the “epic heavy metal” tag, one familiar with bands like Manilla Road and Cirith Ungol, and it’s well suited for them. Though the longest song is only about seven minutes, and there’s an even share of tightly focused tunes, the sheer grandeur of each song is undeniable. There’s a vast journey undertaken, which is signaled by the wonderful cover art depicting a lonely traveler heading down an open path as the sun provides minimal ambient light.
Patrick Backlund gets double billing as guitarist and bassist, while Göran Jacobson provides vocal support with a commanding range. Backlund is equally proficient in both instruments, and the bass is a leading part of songs like rousing closer “To Kill Beneath the Sun” and fully charged “The Girl from the Island.” Two different drummers split up the work on the album, and though there’s nothing outright spectacular about either of their performances, they act as a strong backbone to Backlund’s spirited music style.
Quicksand Dream date back to the late ’80s, which means that they have been around in some form or another for almost 30 years. That’s a lot of time passed, though Beheading Tyrants proves it wasn’t in vain. When people think of “classic” heavy metal, something like this album is the exact kind of representation, except it came out in 2016 and not 1986.
(released November 11, 2016 on Cruz Del Sur Music)