Review Summary: Time to Receive An ULTRA BEATDOWN!! Too bad it doesn't feel that ULTRA Since We've Gotten This Before. Good Thing The Execution Hasn't Gotten Boring Yet.
In 2007, the hit video game franchise Guitar Hero released its latest installment: Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. Upping the ante in difficulty by adding such songs as Raining Blood and One, the game frustrated players. One song stood above the rest in terms of craziness though: Through the Fire and the Flames. Suddenly Dragonforce had reached a new group of listeners as they drooled over the speed of the song. With the popularity of the song, sales for Dragonforce albums shot over 100% (still trying to figure that one out) and the public showed the band was here to stay. On August 26th, Dragonforce's latest effort Ultra Beatdown
So how does the new record stand up to its predecessors? Well not only does it have a ridiculously named, but awesome, title it also sounds like everything else the band has done. A change of style definitely wasn't in the band's mind while recording this. And since the band's formula hasn't change from the beginning, I have decided to do the same type of review as my very first one. Get ready for the same old traditional track by track review.
Dragonforce has had a nice reputation for putting out stellar opening tracks and Heroes Of Our Time
is nothing different. Like Through the Fire and the Flames, a nice little build up starts the song until we are greeted by a frenzy of guitarwork. ZP enters the fray singing in a nice melodic way (his vocals are always underrated). We are then greeted by a nice catchy chorus. Another verse is sung followed by another chorus. The best part of the song comes in with a nifty little interlude. Vadim plays this gorgeous part on the keys while ZP sings away. Now we have reached the solo. Welcome to Mach 5 speed people. Digitally enhanced or not, Herman and Sam are flailing away while Dave keeps a fast steady pace behind the kit. The song concludes with a verse/chorus combo.
The Fire Still Burns
starts out a bit differently as the hectic guitars don't start until after ZP sings at the beginning.. The rest of the formula sticks though. At around 1:25 we reach what has to be the longest pre-chorus/chorus ever. Starting with vocals by the rest of the band, which are the best vocals are the entire album surprisenly, it turns to ZP to do the chorus. At 5:13 solo land has approached once again. A chorus ends the best song on the album.
The first twenty-seven seconds of Reasons To Live
seem like the band is changing things up a little bit. The drums are going faster than normal and weird synthesizer effects are being used. By the time the forty-five second mark comes around, we are greeted by Through the Fire and the Flames. Yes, I am serious. Thankfully Vadim changes up the entire tone and mood of the song near the three minute mark. He even solos during the solo too, making it into a different kind of solo for the band. The song ends with a chorus like always.
Ok, so the extremely detailed track by track is getting boring already. They are always tedious and predictable. And well, that is what this album is like. Same old formula is used for every single song. The tempo changes in a song like The Last Journey Home
is nice, but it doesn't sustain the entire eight minutes as the band felt like turning the speed up to that of Usain Bolt. The solos are always fast and always sound the same, even if the songs are completely different, which isn't exactly the case. Even the obligatory Dragonforce ballad, which in this case is A Flame For Freedom
, has to have the wankery during the solo. The final two tracks bring the same emotion and execution as the first five songs brought, fast and melodic.
Fast and melodic is actually a great thing for Dragonforce. They are able to create nice catchy songs when they do this style. The biggest problem is that they are totally unable to write a variety of songs. Yeah power metal is supposed to be fast and deal with themes like swords, dragons, and emotion, but other power metal bands like Lost Horizon and Kamelot are able to have more than different variety of songs that stand out.
One thing that Dragonforce has for them is that they are incredible musicians. The guitars are amazing (again digitally enchanced or not), and I am happy Vadim got a bit of a bigger role on the album (Welcome to Valley of the Damned pt. 2). Dave Mackintosh also performs his best performance to date on here as well. And for ZP Theart, well, he's always been a great vocalist and nothing changed.
as a whole is completely one-dimensional, sans the ballad which sounds like their other ballads. While being fun, catchy, and making me feel incredibly awesome while listening, repetition kills the album like it did on Inhuman Rampage. It's a step up from that record in terms of using the band's full talents, but can not get a better rating, or even the same rating, because of the repetition and occasional boring song(i.e Heartbreak Armageddon
and The Warrior Inside
), and the fact this didn't make an impact on me the same way Inhuman Rampage achieved. If the next album doesn't change things up a bit, Dragonforce's fire may not still be burning, and it may be their last journey home. But for now, in the power metal community, they are heroes of our time because my favorite genre is getting mainstream attention. And hey, bringing more listeners to hear the music I adore is still a good thing. So Dragonforce gets props for that.