Review Summary: Tempo changes, Audible Bass, and Emotional Solos? How in the world is this a Dragonforce album?
For some reason the past year in music has not been too exciting. I can pretty much sum it up by splurging over Imaginaerum
Amon Amarth and Gotye/Foster the People songs. But aside from that there has not been enough time or enough care for finding any new gems. Luckily for this power metal fiend, good old Dragonforce has decided to release a new album. Anyone who has heard the band before knows what to expect from these guys: over the top singing, endless double bass drumming, and the cheesiest, speedy, and most ridiculous guitar sounds in the history of music. Something about this new album, entitled The Power Within
, takes me back to 2004 and 2005. I was a fourteen/fifteen year old trying to find my musical identity and found it in power metal.
The first thing people will notice about the band is that they have a new lead singer. To be frank, he is pretty awesome. Holding On
has Marc Hudson showing his pipes from the beginning. His vocal register is clearly higher than previous vocalist ZP Theart and is a perfect replacement. Since he does not belt out high notes exclusively, the rest of his stuff is decent too. Cry Thunder
are the perfect examples to demonstrate the capability of Hudson. Even though he has an oddly similar sound to Bullet for My Valentine singer Matt Tuck, the tone of the vocals on this album are perfect for what the album is trying to accomplish.
For the first time in almost a decade, Dragonforce wants to show that they are more than just a band that plays the same song over the course of an album with a ballad thrown in for good measure. Sure, Herman and Sam play really fast on typical songs like Fallen World
and Heart of the Storm
but they reign themselves from going overboard like the two previous records. One key reason for this switch is that the songs are a whole lot shorter. Instead of nine minute epics scattered throughout, we are treated to four to five minute songs. This switch allows for a variety that the band has not possessed their debut. Guitar solos actually pack a punch as evident by the almost jazz/bluesy sound at the start of the solo in Wings of Liberty
and the jaw dropping solo in Last Man Stands
This is not just a love fest for the vocals and guitars. The entire band steps up and makes some damn good power metal songs. Come to find out Dragonforce has a bassist named Frédéric Leclercq. Aside from a few bands like Lost Horizon and Kamelot, no one even knows that power metal bands have bassists because no one can hear them. Not only is it clearly audible, but the bass has solos…SOLOS!"!"!" Just listen to the aggressively sounding Give Me the Night
and find out . As for the actual songs themselves, the band has created some of their best material. Cry Thunder
is the obligatory mid tempo sing along song that is supposed to be catchy for the listener. Seasons
is a throwback to the infancy of the genre with its happy lyrics, happy sound, and cheesy late 80s early 90s guitar sound that a fan of power metal understands perfectly. However, Die by the Sword
is by far the best track. Maybe it is due to the song sounding like Blind Guardian sped up three times (seriously this is the best imitation of Andre Olbrich’s signature guitar sound that anyone has done). Maybe it is the cheesetastic bridge vocals leading into the solo. Whatever….only My Spirit Will Go On and Disciples of Babylon can be debated with this song as being the band’s best.
The Power Within
is utterly fantastic. Marc Hudson’s arrival brings shorter songs, more variety of riffs, lack of Mach 5 guitar solos for 70 minutes, and a return to the band's roots combining the best of Valley of the Damned and Sonic Firestorm. Guitar solos are memorable. Songs are distinguishable and the keys, drums, and bass provide one of the best rhythm sections that the genre has seen in a very long time. This is easily the best power metal album in the past two years and that is something I did not think I would say about the band at this point in time. The final year of our existence has lasted almost four full months now and I can not help but wanting to take Dragonforce’s The Power Within
on this magical journey to apocalypse. Sorry Amon Amarth you have been temporarily replaced.