Review Summary: HYPERSPEED!!
As a closet Dragonforce fanboy, I am obliged to come out of the closet and give them a four. For anybody that actually knows me in person, I like to pass myself off as a tr00 kvlt person who enjoys bands such as Bishop of Hexen and Darkthrone, but I'm actually quite open minded and enjoy mainstream bands such as this.
Now that I have my confession out of the way, let's get on to actually reviewing the album. It's been said that all of Dragonforce's songs sound the same, but upon closer inspection, you could hear the pseudo-complexity of baroque era classical music in there. There's also some Maiden worship in here, but if anything, it's masked by the sheer speed and 'wall of notes' nature of the guitars.
The band has evolved quite a bit on this album. They have actually decided to add slow parts into their songs, like 'Inside the Winter Storm' and ' Reasons to Live', which gives the music a little bit more variety. Although they have not dispensed with their precious triplet one-two kick drums, they HAVE implemented some rhythmic experimentation, namely using a variation of the beat from Metallica's 'Whiplash' in the latter part of 'Heroes of our Time' and 'Reasons to Live'.
I could go on for hours praising them, but what people REALLY want to hear is some actual critiques on the album, so I'll do my best to sum it up. I have always held the suspicion that Dragonforce writes their songs by simply widdling around on the black keys of a piano, which pretty much constitutes to the majority of their sound to the uninitiated ear. I have done some scrutinizing analyzing and same up with the conclusion that that do actually DO write their songs with conviction and actual structure- the only problem is that they overdo it- much like every single song on every single one of their albums. This overkill is the reason all their songs sound the same- if only they were to hold back a little bit, they would sound a little more tasteful.
Speaking of taste, the video game noises are really quite grating on the ears, and that contributes to the utter tastelessness of Dragonforce albums. On this album, they rule supreme, and that REALLY got on my nerves.
The real controversy surrounding this band, however, are the two guitarists Herman Li and Sam Totman. They play well beyond their abilities, detracting from their live performances and making them look like incompetents. The point is, they would have fared much better if they didn't set such high standards for themselves. They should leave the uber shredding to Mohammend Suicmez and Yngwie Malmsteen.
There is a paradox though, because their weaknesses also double as their selling points. You buy Dragonforce albums BECAUSE the songs sound consistant, happy and stupidly fun. I don't know anybody that buys Dragonforce for spiritual introspection- try Death or Isis for that stuff. They buy their stuff because they want a soundtrack to the Final Fantasy/ Lord of the Rings crossover in their heads- endless swordplay and magic to the hyperspeed Mozart-on-crack soundtrack to a happy apocalypse. The videogame noises, as much as I hate to admit it, actually add to their sound- completing the fantasy anime feel that their songs create.
This review might sound like an overall review of Dragonforce itself, but seriously, do you NEED multiple reviews for four albums that sound exactly the same? I would even go so far as to say Dragonforce made one album in four different parts- epic sounding hyperspeed fantasy metal with video game influences is all I can say. If you like your music fun, EPIC, (and I emphasize this word here) , fast, cheesy, and prone to the invocation of RPG battle visions, then this album and Dragonforce are for you. Personally, I love Dragonforce, warts and all, and this album is another welcome addition to a fanboy's collection. :)