DragonForce - Extreme Power Metal
A DragonForce album is like going for a curry you know and love at a place you know and trust: the ingredients are exactly the same, the experience is exactly the same, but you’re having far too much fun to ever, ever, give a shit.
Originality6
Lyrics7
Replay Value8
Instrumentation9
Impact9
7.8Overall Score
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2006, somehow, feels a long time ago all of a sudden.

Among other things, a London-based power metal band called DragonForce were on the brink of exploding – touted as the equivalent of a supergroup made up of unknowns, such was the dazzling music they produced, showcased on then-new release Inhuman Rampage. The world was theirs.

Despite gradually building on their following, it became apparent to those joining the army that, as further albums went by, DragonForce were constantly – though consistently – painting from the same palette over and over again. Indeed, a DragonForce word cloud diagram would be piss-easy for any listener to compile almost instantly – almost every song goes The fire valley of the spirit in victory with the soldiers of the dawn battle the darkness of the heart of the soul of the winter in the storm dragon and that.

But a key realisation came: does it really matter? Does it make the music and the live shows any less fun? The answer is a huge, flaming, neon NO with an exclamation mark made from a giant middle finger. Sam Totman and Herman Li’s fretboard-singeing guitar hero histrionics remain as impressive as ever, as is Totman and now-departed bassist  Frédéric Leclercqs ability to still churn out songs from the above themes with no lack of momentum, energy or freshness. The music sounds neither dated nor necessarily futuristic – it’s just beamed from DragonForce’s home planet and occupies its own space.

Speaking of space, for this record they can be seen joining in with the 80’s revival for the cover and general aesthetic, looking like characters Muse may have encountered in their Simulation Theory adventures, backed by what appears to be a second showing for the band’s dragon sort-of mascot.

Razorblade Meltdown deceptively appears to bring a change in tempo (but not for poor old sticksman Gee Anzalone). Their knack for slotting in great hooks amongst the grinningly defiant silliness (and more power to them) remains undiminished: Strangers sounds like the power metal nephew of Journey’s Separate Ways, while lead single Heart Demolition is a great example of the infamous ‘Bon Jovi on speed’ description once given to their music.

For the casual listener, there is the ever-present notion that any DragonForce song could be interchanged with any other from any album and there would be no instantly-noticeable change. Positively however, you could argue that the band have long-since found their place in metal and defended it with extreme prejudice. If it works for AC/DC…

It’s like surfing a laser beam, or riding a neon comet. The downside is that your reality outside of the song can never match the feverish, cinematic adventurousness of it – you feel there is no acceptable way to enjoy the music other than, say, riding into battle with an army behind you.

The albums ends with a stroke of utter genius: a balls-out cover of Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On. Yes. That one. After a charming instrumental intro that sounds like an 80’s video game, the song takes the fuck off in the tried-and-tested DragonForce manner and… works! The treatment is liberally applied and results in an absolute bullseye, and you immediately pray it becomes a setlist staple for this tour, at least.

Altogether, a DragonForce album is like going for a curry you know and love at a place you know and trust: the ingredients are exactly the same, the experience is exactly the same, but you’re having far too much fun to ever, ever, give a shit.

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