DragonForce is a band you either love or hate. To some, they represent all that is important to the power metal genre. Others find their approach to be distasteful and over the top. Some find their music to be quite entertaining; while to detractors their music is unnecessary wanking. Me, I've learned to enjoy DragonForce, especially after seeing them live. To be honest, their newest album Inhuman Rampage didn't really impress me all that much, aside from a few songs. But the band's second full length offering, Sonic Firestorm, I enjoy that album. It was through this album that I, and most likely many others, became a fan of DragonForce. Of the band's first three records, Sonic Firestorm feels like the most complete album. So without further adieu…
As many of you know, DragonForce's sound is rooted in power metal. But not just any power metal. You see, the band is quite fond of proudly proclaiming themselves to be extreme power metal and the fastest band on the planet, or something to that effect. Vanity, thy name is DragonForce. Or something. But anyways, there is some truth to DragonForce's claims. Speed is an important part of the band's formula. For the most part, the tempo of Sonic Firestorm can be effectively categorized into two groups: fast, fast, and fast. Of course, on the ballad-esque tracks, the extremely high speeds decreases slightly, but the energy of each member is still present. Surprisingly, through all these lightning fast performances, the band still manages to present the listener with precise, well thought out melodies. The guitar tandem of Herman Li and Sam Totman really excel playing this type of music. Throughout Sonic Firestorm their long, impressive solos often set the tone of the music. The speed and intensity that the pair plays with is quite flooring, and extremely fun to listen to. Tracks like Fury of the Storm and My Spirit Will Go On (which happens to be my favourite DragonForce song) showcase the talents of DragonForce's guitarists quite well. DragonForce's melodic style of playing is quite enjoyable, and fans of power metal should especially like it.
However, all is not sunshine and cookies. Sonic Firestorm is by no means a perfect album. Perhaps my biggest qualm with the record lies in the extremely long song lengths. Only two of the songs are less than six minutes long, and because of this the album might get tiring to listen to after awhile. Especially since the structure of some of the songs is quite similar. Songs like Soldiers of the Wasteland or Once in a Lifetime fall victim to this con, and could probably have been shortened a bit without hurting the song, and this would likely have made the album somewhat easier to listen to, especially to new fans of the band. Another aspect that might be an issue to some is in fact the soloing. Though I quite enjoy this part of the band's arsenal, it might be too over the top for some to properly digest. The speed and technique that Herman and Sam employ can often feel unnecessary; especially in a song that nearly reaches nine minutes in length. But different strokes for different folks, I guess.
DragonForce has made quite the name for themselves over the past few years. They've amazed many with their speediness, energy, and precision (at least in the studio). They've headlined several tours, and had a spot on Ozzfest 06. But most importantly, they've succeeded in producing a trio of solid, consistent albums. Their Sonic Firestorm album, which was released in 2004, is definitely their strongest yet, as it combines the important elements needed to create a successful album. Epic, effortless, energetic, heavy, fast, and melodic are all adjectives which could describe the band's second album, and are all adjectives which any band in this field could use. With this release, DragonForce shows the power metal realm that they are a force to be reckoned with, and definitely a band to look out for in the future. If you're going to get a DragonForce album, this is the one to get.
My Spirit Will Go On
Prepare for War
Fury of the Storm
Soldiers of the Wasteland