Review Summary: Essentially, an hour long fanfare.
Sometimes, the pomposity, the stereotype and the unwavering commitment fans of power metal have for the subgenre is simply too much for others to stomach. Three years after their previous release, “Maximum Overload”
, DragonForce- that band everyone knows from that song on that music game- have had ample time for their cheese to mature further for their new album, “Reaching into Infinity”
. Unbelievably, this is the band’s seventh album and it is everything a power metal fan could want and everything they don’t want from the band.
Face it, DragonForce’s success and reputation is largely down to the guitar wizardry of Herman Li and Sam Totman. The album is jam packed full of invigorating solos that sound like Pac Man dosed up on crack and the interplay of the guitarists, particularly on “Land of Shattered Dreams”, is technical enough to make even the most patient Guitar Hero fan rage quit. The dexterity of the musician’s abilities is, of course, admirable however it’s the positioning and length of these solos where problems arise. The constant stop-start of explosive riffs and dreamy melodies during “Midnight Madness” make the song sound disjointed. Moreover, it doesn’t matter how speedily a band plays their instruments because playing quickly doesn’t change the duration of the song. If the song is too long, playing quicker isn’t going to shorten it… and there is an abundance of overlong solos in this album.
Vocals are an incredibly important aspect of power metal. Because the subgenre is supposed to be such a stimulating sound, the vocal presence has to match how emotive the other instruments appear. More often than not, this is what distinguishes the good from the bad. Occasionally, Marc Hudson hits the bull’s eye. “Astral Empire” and “Judgement Day” are such examples where he sticks to lyrics sung as rapidly as the thrashing drums behind him and remains composed during the uplifting choruses, never going excessively anthemic to the point of it sounding synthetic. Other times, the outcome is not so successful. Contrary to the sincerity that the subject demands, the lyrics in “Silence” handle suicide in the most insincere way due to the overly enthusiastic tone of the ballad. “WAR!” also features uninspired lyricism with incomprehensible highs notes.
Naturally, the instrumentalism on “Reaching into Infinity”
is suitably over-the-top, although there are subtle developments from the band’s archetypical sound. Standing at 11 minutes plus change, “The Edge of The World” is DragonForce’s longest track to date. During its extensive duration, the band drifts between hasty thrash rhythms and chanting choirs complete with the sound of a having a seizure. However, the biggest surprise is the harsh vocals. Admittedly, for average death metal, they sound exceptionally safe but for a band who normally sounds rousing and optimistic, they are a welcome change. There aren’t nearly enough deviations like this during “Reaching into Infinity”
for the album to appear compelling to an outsider. Nevertheless, the attempt to expand their confined sound is commendable.
Unfortunately, “Reaching into Infinity”
is as predictable as the sun being bright. This predictability nature arises when a band dedicates too much time to a single aspect of their music. For DragonForce, this is bravado. Other bands, such as Amon Amarth, Sabaton, Airbourne and Slayer have different aspects, however, the similarity between these various bands is that they have all dug themselves too far into their career and reputation to alter their direction with genuine success. Instead, DragonForce, rely on their customary sound, going by the ‘if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it’ mantra that ultimately brings about the deterioration of countless bands.