DragonForce - 'Reaching Into Infinity'
Originality7.5
Lyrics8
Replay Value8
Instrumentation9
Overall Impact8.1
We Liked...
  • The experimental flourishes
  • The revitalized rhythm section
  • The solos, obviously
We Didn't Like...
  • It's bog-standard moments
  • It's attempt at over-compensating at times
8.1Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
0.0
DragonForce – ‘Reaching Into Infinity’
Originality7.5
Lyrics8
Replay Value8
Instrumentation9
Overall Impact8.1
We Liked…
  • The experimental flourishes
  • The revitalized rhythm section
  • The solos, obviously
We Didn’t Like…
  • It’s bog-standard moments
  • It’s attempt at over-compensating at times

2017-05-20

8.1Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)

0.0

Conquering the world by defeating all those who challenge you by possessing the hardest level of Guitar Hero for time immortal is a double-edged sword. For one, it’s pretty damn cool that you’ve crafted a song so complex forty-something nerds in their mother’s basements and little kids can’t tap a few buttons on a fictional guitar fast enough, but at the same time, it’s pretty damn lame that your biggest hit is only a hit because it got featured as the hardest level on a videogame. Power metal powerhouses DragonForce, since the moment they released their third album Inhuman Rampage some eleven years ago – containing said hit, Through The Fire And The Flames – have been battling blazing hellfire to compete with both their legacy and their laughter, often the butt of metal purist’s jokes. Having ditched operatic maestro ZP Theart back in 2010, in favour for the more tone-friendly Marc Hudson, they’ve been on a constant journey through maturity, their music graduating from power metal cheese to legitimate song-crafters sent from realms far away. 2014’s Maximum Overload erased the work they put in on their previous effort, 2011’s The Power Within, pushing them once more back down the pecking order, packing in routine performances with Babymetal to keep themselves in the spotlight.

However, once more, with the force of a dragon, they have truly come to conquer us all. Whilst their seventh full-length ‘Reaching Into Infinity’ begins off-pace in the shape of the genre-standard marching-band titular intro and a NWOBHM-heavy double whammy of standard middle-of-the-road fare in ‘Ashes Of The Dawn’ and ‘Judgement Day’, DragonForce find themselves fighting for survival once and for all, and furiously, from the machine-gun-chugging ‘Astral Empire’ onwards. On his first foray with the ‘Force, drummer Gee Anzalone revitalises their rhythm section, tapping into the ferocity bassist Frédéric Leclercq brings off of the back of his death metal supergroup Sinsaenum, taking their force to a whole new level, packing punch after punch to the brain behind each of the slick solos thrown out once more by Herman Li and Sam Totman.

‘Reaching Into Infinity’ is constantly developing, building and bubbling and brooding into bigger and better avenues, coming off as an album made to be listened to from start to finish, a story of progression seeping through each and every track. It is here that it is most noticeable that DragonForce aren’t one-trick super-solo ponies and are in fact warriors of diversity, trading in their traditional brand of power metal for a speed-tinged alt-metal polish, diverging into Venom territory on the metal-punk mashups of War! and Evil Dead, two of the album’s clear-cut highlights. The former flushes you into its world through colourful sliding solos bludgeoned by blurring blast-beats and basslines designed to blow your mind, whilst the latter rips your head off with King Diamond-aping screams of “Evil Dead! Evil Dead! Evil Dead!” leaving you in ecstasy, the Death cover hitting as hard as its original.

When experimenting in the dark arts, DragonForce are as powerful as any one of their contemporaries, but in the moments they play it safe, they fall paces behind, compromising the sheer work they’ve put in crafting serious songs to strengthen their serious skills. Take eleven-minute long epic ‘The Edge Of The World’, the album’s Iron Maiden-moment, if you will. It’s one boat-pushing stunt too far that takes the edge (pardon the pun) off of the structure of the song itself, and the album, an unnecessary display of skill that’s always been, well, displayed.

At times, you find yourself slipping away from the action, your mind momentarily switching off as if this was all but simply a collection of background fuzz, tuning in and out like static on a radio, before finding yourself snapping back to reality and zoning in on the technical wizardry on display. It’s an Achilles heel the ‘Force have struggled with intensely for their entire career, and one they can’t simply shake off.

‘Reaching Into Infinity’ forgets Maximum Overload, picking up from where The Power Within left off, delivering a dazzling display of alt-metal, often diverging into experimental punk and speed territories with tantalising results. They may not be the coolest band on the planet, but they sure know how to shred.

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