Dragonforce: The Power Within

This new album marks the fifth studio alum from Dragonforce and the first album with new vocalist Marc Hudson. For those of you who aren’t aware, original singer ZP Theart left the band in early 2010 and open auditions were held while the band searched for a new singer.

I want to start off this review by giving a brief introduction to my opinions towards Dragonforce. Their first album, Valley of the Damned, is a really good album as far as power metal goes. The guitar solos are a lot more thought out and melodic in my opinion. Their second album, Sonic Firestorm, was an even better album. They totally stepped up their game, wrote better and  more epic songs and started adding in those signature blistering solos. Then Inhuman Breakdown came out. Theres really only one song that I like on that album, which I think is the best song they’ve ever written and that’s “Operation Ground and Pound”. Other than that, I don’t like the album that much. It’s not a bad record, but what came out of it is what I don’t like. Ever since they got put on guitar hero they just became a parody of themselves and everyone started loving the band for all the wrong reasons. That album made everyone who was a fan of the band previously realize that all they have going for them is playing the same solo and breakneck speeds. It’s cool and it worked on Sonic Firestorm, but not so much on Inhuman Rampage. Then came Ultra Beatdown…does anyone really care about that record? I know i didn’t. I listened to it, but only a few times and then it just fell by the wayside for me. I didn’t want to hear the same thing over and over again for a third time.

Now we have a new album with a new singer so hopefully a new sound and direction right?….ehhh….kinda.

The first thing I noticed immediately was that they shortened most of their songs and tried to make everything like an epic single. There’s still the solos and all that fun stuff, but we’ll address that later. Most of the songs to feel rushed (shocking!!!!). With the songs being shorter and the band still trying to fit a “Through Fire and Flames” into a four-minute single, it feels rushed and I feel like it’s really noticeable. The songs also really blend together because of it and it’s hard sometimes to notice of a song stopped and another one started.

As far as the vocals go…Marc is a great singer. I can’t argue that at all. He’s got the classic power metal vocal style and range. BUT, that’s the problem. My problem with a lot of power metal is that it all starts to sound the same after a while. The vocals are to similar and the choruses become very repetitive throughout different bands. Unless we’re talking about the godfathers and the giants of the genre (Helloween, Dio, Rainbow, Blind Guardian, Nightwish, Iced Earth, and Rhapsody of Fire), then everything else becomes carbon copies of the aforementioned bands. What Dragonforce gained with ZP as a singer was that he was very distinct and complimented their overall sounded perfectly. Hudson sounds a little too clean-cut; lacking the edge that defined ZP as a singer. This makes the overall sound of the band on this album sound like nothing special as well.

The guitar solos also pissed me off. Even though there were plenty of times where they took their time in some parts, when they ripped into a solo (it’s always obviously when the super fast part is going to come because they always have that fucking grand pause like something big is going to happen) it was blatantly obvious that some of the riffs used in the solos were taken from older songs. There were about three solos within something like two songs that sounded like a chunk of ‘Through Fire and Flames” and the a chunk of “Operation Ground and Pound” played exactly like on the original record and then put back to back on this record.

Bottom line: There was just no ‘Wow’ factor. There were hooks, but nothing to really grab onto. I just couldn’t get into it. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there’s a power metal freak out there who loves everything Dragonforce have done and think this is a brilliant record (I don’t know how you could think that, but to each his own). I’d like to hear your opinions on the new Dragonforce. Please respond.

Luke Helker

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