Review Summary: Too Much of a Good Thing? No way. This album fits right in the familiar Dragonforce mold, but with some extra spices added to the mix to change it up. "Ultra Beatdown" aims DragonForce in a good direction for progression of future albums to come.
Greetings. I have to say that after listening to Ultra Beatdown, I am pleased with the shift DragonForce has made regarding diversity on their album as a whole. Granted the change is subtle, it still is a CD you will throw in your stereo or a tab you will revisit on your IPOD many times.
Seeing as I am a DragonForce fan, I will do my best to keep this as unbiased as possible.
I feel this album is arguably one of the best released to date, closely followed by either Sonic Firestorm or Valley of the Damned. Inhuman Rampage was seemingly done as a "talent showcase" as most songs did not fill me with inspiration or give me goosebumps, but hammered on and on with ludicrous speed and precision. They were mostly extreme solos and "guitar noodles" for most the songs. Both Sonic Firestorm and Valley of the Damned were of the same suit, but were strongly melodic, yet offset by sweet ballads giving the albums a nice balance. Still, I found myself skipping over the ballads more often than not. As for the faster songs, some are hard to differentiate from the others. Ultra Beatdown barely slows down, but it seems that on this new album, each song is discernible by its own merit alone, and the ballad is great too. :) (Flame for Freedom)
All in all, I think Ultra Beatdown has what the previous album Inhuman Rampage lacked: Heart.
Li and Totman play not only blistering solos throughout, but harmonic melodies that you find yourself humming hours after you get outta the car from the drive home that was seemingly faster because of the speed of the music. We get the same lyrical prowess from Theart, and that recognizeable epic boom from Mackintosh and Leclercq that makes DragonForce so exciting to listen to. Shining most brightly this time around would have to be the keyboardist, Pruzhanov . It seems the new noises and synth FX have made their way moreso into the songs on Ultra Beatdown, which I think really makes this album shine.
I have read complaints on the title of the album, as well as some of the song names. I disagree whole heartedly, and the "Heavy Metal Magazine" style of the Album Art is a great addition to the DragonForce album art repertoire. They are very much a fun band, parodying the "ultra epic-ness" that metal bands are most of the time. They add their own style to it by incorporating nintendo, synth, and odd distortions in to keep them a completely hybrid band of which recurring fans will expect nothing less than over the top extremity, and some humor along the way.
Songs I highly recommend are:
"Reasons to Live"
"Last Journey Home"
--( these two songs break the Dragonforce mold the most, a nice change and a refreshing view of future DragonForce)
The rest of the songs are quite good, and remind you of DragonForce during the Valley of the Damned era. Which I think is great that they've gone back to playing emotionally, not so much about technical ability.
All in all, this album is fun and worth listening to at least once, whether you're a fan or just wanting to hear something that will make you want to charge a castle in the mountains during a thunderstorm with a sword made of steel.
:) - Pretty Kate Machine