The amount of time and effort required to release a record can often be quite staggering. In the case of Sweden’s Quicksand Dream, remaining members Göran Jacobson (vocals) and Patrick Backlund (bass) have weathered 17 years of mostly obscure existence to finally see their lone full-length, Aelin – A Story About Destiny, see a proper release.
The full band officially split back in the early 90’s, but Göran and Patrick decided to forage ahead and complete their vision, eventually piecing together a concept album in ’99 mostly intended for an extremely limited CD-R release for close friends. Lo and behold, the enlightening hand of our indomitable friend The Internet eventually stepped in and brought the release to light for wider circles within the underground, along with High Roller and Planet Metal Records. Now, nearly two decades after Quicksand Dream first pieced themselves together, Aelin: A Story About Destiny has officially hit the streets.
First and foremost, I’d say this album is best suited for the old-school metallers in the house, those of you looking for the missing link between, say, Manilla Road and Atlantean Kodex, for example. 50-plus minutes of sprawling, epic ‘scapes that switch seamlessly back-and-forth between mid-paced gallops and slower, darker measures, all buttressed by Patrick’s always busy bass-lines (highlight of the album for me) and enough melodic noodling to keep any fan of obscure NWOBHM extremely pleased. There’s a little bit of everything “classic metal sounding” packed into the walls here, but the emphasis never strays too far from the concept that the music is truly intended to help guide the album’s central focus, Aelin’s story, and therein lies what will likely stand as the album’s greatest roadblock for some of you out there.
The lyrical content of the record reads a bit like something you’d see drawn in the pages of a fantasy-obsessed high-schooler’s history notebook. In fact, I don’t recall a time when I’ve heard the word “sorcerer” used so often on an album. But, considering the age of the material, and the fact that I’m no stranger to the wizardly power of a 20-sided die, such a thing doesn’t really phase me. Those sensitive to such content best steer clear, however, as Aelin: A Story About Destiny strongly emphasizes itself as the type of record that had the “I’m a sorcerer but I don’t wanna be a sorcerer so I’m avoiding being a sorcerer until I eventually realize I can’t avoid being a sorcerer so fuck it I might as well get on with the business of ensorcelling” story written well-before the music was laid down, so it’s brazen, front and center.
Also worth mentioning, Göran has a relatively nasal vocal delivery that sounds…”youthful,” for lack of a better term, and might take a little getting used to for some listeners. Not sure I can put that in a way that doesn’t sound rude, but there you go. I’d say fans of the aforementioned Manilla Road or Kodex will get along fine, but seeing as how the protagonist’s story holds such a vital role, you won’t get very far if you can’t get down with Göran’s voice.
So, while Aelin: A Story About Destiny certainly won’t blow anyone’s head back with its innovativeness, it’s pretty clear as to why it made a sizable enough splash amongst epic metal connoisseurs in the underground to warrant a proper release from two high-quality independent labels. I’d say it certainly shows enough talent that I’d be happy to see Göran and Patrick piece together another band for a future release. I just hope it doesn’t take another decade and a half for them to bring it to light.