In a world where speed metal, blazing fingers, and even faster picks, Dragonforce is near the top of the power metal pile. I was first introduced to this band by my son Corey. He also shares my taste for head-banging, smash-mouth, guitar oriented music. After listening to the first song I was impressed by the skillful, yet lightning fast, guitar playing. This extreme power metal band formed in 1999 hails from London, England. Dragonforce will draw on influences by all forms of metal, melodic metal, and speed metal, but also video games. Their lyrics are definitely influenced by the themes present in games such as Final Fantasy. To quote Herman Li (one of the lead guitarists) from Guitar World on a description of the band’s style: “Nintendo Metal, or Bon Jovi on speed”. I would have to agree. After hearing my first few songs from Dragonforce, my first thoughts were, “these guys have to be doing major finger callesthenics in order to maintain that speed live.” This is a definite deviation from my last review, but one I have enjoyed. Dragonforce gets my axe playing juices flowing much like the bands Dream Theater, and Symphony X do.
The latest album release from Dragonforce is called “Inhuman Rampage” It is their third album. It was released on January 9th, 2006, and their first with Road Runner Records. The album title alone depicts their musical style. The first track “Through the Fire and Flames” blazes into the auditory canal with inhuman thrash. This song is the most successful single by Dragonforce. It is also used as the unlockable final encore song in the popular video game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. Track two, “Revolution Deathsquad”, slows things down from 200mph to 100mph. This toned down pace (not really) allows you to enjoy a nice mixture of palm muted and loud crunching guitar rhythms, along with some keyboards, and video gaming sounds. The mid-point of the song sounds similar to older Metallica. The next song is called “Storming the Burning Fields”. It begins with the patented blazing solo guitar but later incorporates a well mixed combination of keyboards and rhythm guitars. The typical lyrics say:
And we will cross the evil standing
On the temple in the fire
Storming there beyond the lost horizons, oh
Heroes of the night are calling
See the promised land is falling
Reaching for the powers deep inside
On through the night
The fourth track is called “Operation Ground and Pound”. It is the second single and video release of the album. The song speeds things up to break-neck pace again. At first listen the song sounds like all the previous songs, but after a second listen you pick up on the subtle anthem style, along with a more melodic song direction almost reminiscent of the band Europe. Remember “The Final Countdown”? Of course you do.
Album highlights include “Through the Fire and Flames”, the twin guitar solos in the song are incredible, “Storming the Burning Fields”, “Operation Ground and Pound”, “Body Breakdown” is another melodic song that contains solos from all the instruments but the drums. The dueling instruments are similar to Dream Theater, “Trail Of Broken Hearts” is the only ballad type song on the album and is a welcome reprieve from the previous onslaught as the song sings:
Fly away down the lonely roads of yesterday
Close your eyes to see the light of latter days
And all the memory that time can never heal
With the trail of broken hearts flying free.
There is a bonus track available through the Japanese release called “Lost Souls in Endless Time”. I will have to find it and download it to see if is as good. Once you get past the almost ridiculous speed of the guitar playing you will discover that most of the songs are well composed, which means that Dragonforce actually put some thought, and not just technical prowess, into the songs. Anyone who is a fan of the progressive metal, speed metal, or thrash metal genres will appreciate the music of this album. Most people will recognize their style from fantasy themed video games. I know most of my sons will. I give the album four stars out of five. Thrash On!!
Check out the awesome video for “Through the Fire and the Flames” below. Be sure to watch for the dueling guitar solos close to the end.