4 of 4 thought this review was well written
When I first heard of this band, I thought they were just some cheesy power metal act about dungeons and dragons. Now I've always had a fascination for that kind of thing, so I went out and bought their latest release, Inhuman Rampage, which turned out to suck more balls than I'd expected them to. So when I got this one I wasn't really expecting anything great. DragonForce struck me more as a group of wankers than a band trying to make proper music (Then again, I love Dream Theater...), but hesitantly I tried the whole thing out one day.
And I find that I like this album a whole lot more than the masturbatory shipwreck men call Inhuman Rampage. Yes, DF is still the cheesiest band to roam the wide world. Yes, ZP Theart still sings like he's been whacked with a cricket bat once too often when he still lived in South Africa. Sam Totman and Herman Li still shred at Mach 3 attempting to outfly even space shuttles. Malmsteen would be proud of these guys. But overall this is still a great power metal album. For some reason, the melodies and sounds captivate more than anywhere else. Whereas on Inhuman Rampage the power metal gimmick was fun for the first two songs, but then it got boring and tiring to sit through and then at the end we had some cheesy ballad to close the whole thing off, it's totally different on here. First of all, we do have a ballad called "Starfire", but it's placed in the middle to nicely separate two blocks of high speed power metal. Second of all, despite being lyrically very odd (A ballad about warriors? I totally don't get it), musically it keeps reminding me of a track I keep forgetting the name. Somewhere ZP sounds like Bryan Adams, and I'm not entirely sure if that's a good or a bad thing, but I like the track as a whole.
Of course, next to Starfire we have the typical paint-by-numbers DragonForce speed metal anthems. Valley Of The Damned, which is preceded by perhaps the most pointless intro in the history of all intros, Invocation Of The Apocalyptic Evil, is a monster raging at you all the time. Sure, it's cliche as hell, but for power metal it works like a charm. Blast out of your speakers, do some lead fretting, sing a verse and a chorus, do some more lead fretting, sing some more verses and a chorus let your partner take over, ask the keyboardist if he wants to do some showing off, come back for another grand rousing chorus to round the whole thing off. Not the most original formula ever perhaps, but you can't deny the band isn't good at what they do. As I said, the gimmick wears a bit thin after a while, but it's the band debut release, so they have an excuse right now. The band has failed to progress in the time it took for them to release the next two discs, which is a bit of a disappointment, but for a young band finding their feet there is no denying the whole "Gammaweenovariusodylot" formula has done fine, and power metal never was about originality anyway. I mean, Gamma Ray are still playing power metal, Helloween are still playing power metal, and Stratovarius are still playing power metal by numbers, and they still sell dozens.
Plus these choruses are so damn catchy. I can't stop singing the chorus to Black Winter Night. I don't know why, but it's just so listenable and happy-sing-along-music, like there's nothing bad in your mind ever, which is a nice change of styles for me. DragonForce makes me smile despite their cheesiness, and they simply have that anthemic singalong quality, a good sense of self-wit, it's simply solid and coherent and it all works. You can talk about being sentimental here, but there's no denying that these guys love doing what they do and have fun doing it. And as long as they love doing their stuff, there's always a chance a band comes out with something good.
This leaves me to say that for fans of power metal, this is the most essential purchase of the band's catalogue. No, it's not the most original release you'll ever hear. No, it's not the most technically crafted release you'll ever hear, although the guitar axemen are certainly proficient at their instruments. Yet it's a solid power metal release from a solid power metal band. I never thought I'd say this one day, but with the heart of a dragon I ride, to the land of the evening sun. Inhuman Rampage did not convince me, but this one does, thanks for getting me on the bandwagon, Sam.