Italy's prosperous power metal scene may be most recognized for bands like Labyrinth, Rhapsody of Fire, and Elvenking, but there are also plenty of lesser-known acts that have been pumping out solid albums for quite a few years. Enter Drakkar, a band from Milan that released three albums in the late 1990's and early 2000's before falling into relative obscurity. When Lightning Strikes is their comeback album of sorts, and marks the group's first full-length outing in the near-ten year period since Razorblade God. Fans of Drakkar's older material will be satisfied to hear that this album is filled to the brim with solid riffs, memorable melodies, and lovably cheesy symphonic keyboards, and while their sound may take a few too many hints from their fellow Italian power metal bretheren, there's no doubt that When Lightning Strikes is an impressive effort from start to finish.
Rhapsody of Fire is probably the most notable point of reference when discussing the style of music played on When Lightning Strikes. Although Drakkar lacks the same level of orchestral bombast as their fellow countrymen, their sound still balances epic power metal, symphonic interludes, and progressive overtones in a similar manner. Blind Guardian is another valid comparison, so fans of heavy-edged melodic power metal with plenty of symphonic tendencies are bound to find lots to love on When Lightning Strikes. Keyboard player Corrado Solarino is actually given a pretty huge role here, and in addition to delivering plenty of symphonic overtones, his organ and synthesizer solos would not be out of place on a progressive metal album. Though his choice of tones occasionally borders on 'plastic cheese overload', there's no doubt that his playing is spectacular. The rest of the musicians are also top-notch, and although Drakkar have been absent from the scene for quite a bit of time, their craft as musicians has not deteriorated at all.
When Lightning Strikes has a cheesy European power metal flair in nearly every song, but I still find myself having a great time every time I put on this album. As cliched, typical, and pompous as Drakkar may be, they are damn good at delivering solid power metal records - people who are able to look past a few corny, yet still catchy and fun, choruses in songs like "We Ride" should be in for a great time. This won't appeal much to people outside of the core power metal fanbase, but fans of that genre should definitely investigate When Lightning Strikes. 3.5 stars are well deserved for this impressive comeback!