I remember liking Wikka well enough, though it didn't do that much for me. But here is Dreamslave, and it's definitely a step up for Asguard, which are the only band to hail from Belarus, ever.
Dreamslave's structure is about as ordinary as they come, but it works out nevertheless. There are sixteen tracks to be found, and several tunes don't reach past three or four minutes, excluding the ambient interludes that run upwards of a minute or two. On the topic of music, however, Asguard have been described as melodic death metal with vestiges of black metal appearing at random. The keyboards play a not-so-subtle role on the record, so those of you who would rather have the synthesizers be a background-dwelling entity, used specifically for minor enhancements, will be quite disturbed at the quintet's audacity. Moreover, I've also heard the group in question containing elements of NWOBHM, and I concur for whatever it's worth. However, I'd rather liken Asguard to the Finnish Immortal Souls and be done with it.
As per usual, there are flaws just waiting to be exposed on Dreamslave, but they aren't detrimental enough to deter even the pickiest of melodeath-heads. The production, while Wikka's pales in comparison, isn't up to snuff with my reasonable expectations. And, like I mentioned previously, the upfront keyboards may be considered irksome to a select group of people. Perhaps the captivating riffs will rouse the naysayer, though.
I don't think there's any way in hell that Dreamslave will be reserved a spot on my year-end list, but I'm predicting that Asguard are going to be a sleeper hit of sorts, at least in 2005. If these Belarusian metallers keep climbing the ladder at such a steady pace, then I'm confident that we'll witness something truly mesmerizing in the near future. If that is not the case, then we never had this conversation.