DragonForce
Warp Speed Warriors


3.9
excellent

Review

by Dakota West Foss STAFF
March 12th, 2024 | 120 replies


Release Date: 03/15/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: By harnessing their limitless energy and setting the pyrotechnics to a timer, Dragonforce have returned with their finest effort in years.

At the risk of rewriting history, there’s an air of seriousness that has been conspicuously absent from Dragonforce’s music for some time now. Don’t get me wrong, the band has essentially always been about two things -storming against some ill-defined empire with the power of friendship and face-melting guitar wizardry that flies in the face of any measure of good taste- but there was an element of earnestness to the group’s earlier efforts that made the lethal amount of sugar easier to stomach. The obvious marker of this change was the shockingly mainstream popularity of “Through the Fire and the Flames'' thanks to its appearance in Guitar Hero 3, which lead to their next album, Ultra Beatdown sporting some horrendous album art sporting a Gears of War chainsaw gun as some sort of olive branch to Gamers (™). In a way, the group’s pivot in branding to acquiesce to the baser tendencies of newfound onlookers allowed them the fortune of no longer having to worry about writing songs that made any sort of sonic sense and instead focus on crafting songs that could function as taller mountains for plastic, five-buttoned guitars to climb on the leaderboards.

Of course, the Guitar Hero franchise managed to bite the bullet around the same time as the group had experienced a fairly major shakeup in its lineup. The group rallied with a jolt of energy in The Power Within before facing a bit of an identity crisis. Other than some extremely light “technology bad” commentary on the thrash-leaning Maximum Overload, the band has essentially kept the lights on by essentially being the “okay, now let’s do a silly one” version of ACDC. It’s a bit overly dismissive to say if you’ve heard one Dragonforce song, you’ve heard them all -but it’s not exactly wrong, either. Dragonforce took the hardest pivot yet with 2019’s Extreme Power Metal, slowing down the tempos and leaning into every possible 80’s pastiche possible. In case the cover art, with its sports cars and laser guns, and tracklist that included a cover of “My Heart Will Go On” weren’t enough to tip you off, the band was fully leaning into the cheese factor. The attempt was admirable, but the results were mixed, with the increased focus on songwriting and slowed tempos gave more opportunity for the cracks of their formula to show.

Warp Speed Warriors, thankfully, makes good on just about every promise the band has ever had and is the best Dragonforce album in at least a decade.

To be clear, the Old Dragonforce is, in fact, dead, but here the band at least murder that notion with a flashy, over-the-top fatality. The days -perhaps some Golden Yesterday that they can cram in their nonsense lyrics- of the band approaching their material with any bit of pretense are far gone. We’ve got Morrigan on the cover and a song called “Power of the Triforce,” so that’s on you for thinking otherwise. But the band is all the better for cutting out the little seriousness that there was. “Doomsday Party” is conceptually one of the funniest songs I have heard in recent memory by answering a question that nobody asked: What if Abba could shred? While power metal puritans, if ever such a thing could be possible, may scoff at the lack of commitment to whatever tropey bits Blind Guardian outlined, you simply can’t deny that it’s good fun.

While the cheese factor is firmly set to “kill” here, that doesn’t mean that Dragonforce doesn't treat the material seriously. In fact, there are plenty of flourishes here that the band have simply lacked the songwriting maturity to pull off before. “Space Marine Corps” is maybe the best song the band has ever written, and has these subtle -a word I never thought I would associate with this band- keyboards and synths that give a ton of personality to its friendship-propulsion verses that past versions of Dragonforce would have never conceived of. Of course, that song takes a hard turn for the absurd as the instruments temporarily lay down their arms so that a drill sergeant can lead a call-and-response chant about space blasters; I wasn’t kidding about there being no half-measures. “The Killer Queen” is another killer (ugh) track that takes advantage of the theatrics on display, with its gang shouts of its title at a breakneck pace that somehow allows every musician in the band to have their time in the limelight, as if they are each unleashing their signature anime attack move that simply must be announced. Even the token ballad “Kingdom of Steel” manages to be a lighter-waving triumph rather than an excuse to take a bathroom break.

Let’s be clear, Warp Speed Warriors isn’t going to change anyone’s mind about Dragonforce. While the band have impressively managed to navigate their signature wankery with the sort of surgical precision that can only come with age, they are still yapping about magical camaraderie …in space. You can actually judge a book by its cover, and whatever preconceived notions you have are still mostly in tact.They aren’t suddenly something that they are not. But this is simply the highest level that the band has operated on since their inception. The electrifying closer, “Pixel Prison,” has more than a few sections where you can practically hear where a younger version of this band would’ve have wallowed far too long in fretboard heroics, but here they manage to have the jams go on juuuust long enough to have things feel ridiculous, but not exhausting. For any detractors, there’s ample evidence here of the band being everything that they are accused -hell, the deluxe edition has a cover of Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams” that is just as easy to laugh at as it is to laud- but there has arguably never been a better time to enlist in whatever Space Army of Friendship that Dragonforce have constructed.



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user ratings (56)
3.2
good


Comments:Add a Comment 
Odal
Staff Reviewer
March 12th 2024


2095 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

Warp Speed Warriors is out this Friday, the 15th on all platforms

Hawks
March 12th 2024


88146 Comments


Damn gonna have to jam this.

ToSmokMuzyki
March 12th 2024


10880 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

ffs sonarc jp necpho and now dforce

TheTripP
March 12th 2024


4511 Comments


definitely giving this a shot

TheManMachine
March 12th 2024


322 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

i'm counting on this to totally blow me away

DaveyMonsoon
March 12th 2024


1085 Comments


So how many "far aways" are on this one?

WatchItExplode
March 12th 2024


10460 Comments


Album cover looks like a bargain bin Sega Genesis title

frozencarl
March 12th 2024


1650 Comments


hmmm recent TikTok fame and general memery has produced a better album than Reaching into Infinity which produced The Edge of the World the best modern DF song ever?? highly doubtful but I trust you

Gyromania
March 12th 2024


37118 Comments


Lolpass

Odal
Staff Reviewer
March 12th 2024


2095 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

If you can't handle the more meme-y aspects of the band, this probably won't be for you but this is the best body of work they've had while leaning into this gimmicks

Sevengill
March 12th 2024


12059 Comments


yeah I can handle intentionally-cliche fantasy bullshit but they've leaned so far into self-aware meme culture that it's not really fun anymore. I'll go spin Sonic Firestorm again instead.

Pikazilla
March 12th 2024


29805 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

sevengill, stop baiting

Koris
Staff Reviewer
March 12th 2024


21170 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4

Ngl, I kinda agree with Sevengill on this. The band's initial cheesiness was fun and endearing, but now it's just gotten obnoxious imo



Great review though!





Gyromania
March 12th 2024


37118 Comments


For me it’s like, why listen to this when I could listen to some Blind Guardian instead?

Odal
Staff Reviewer
March 12th 2024


2095 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

Blind Guardian and Dragonforce occupy two different sects of power metal and aren't in the same lane. Blind Guardian takes things kinda seriously and sincerely, Dragonforce are clearly just fuckin around and having a good time. I would never turn to one over the other because they are two different vibes, although both are fun

Gyromania
March 12th 2024


37118 Comments


Yeah your first sentence. Hits the nail precisely. One is good, one is bad. Why not listen to good power metal!

Odal
Staff Reviewer
March 12th 2024


2095 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

I love the theatricality and worldbuilding of "serious" power metal bands, but I can also turn my brain off and dig the hair metal variant too. This is what the establishment fears

Sevengill
March 12th 2024


12059 Comments


or what, Pika
or what
is Herman Li going to ban me from his YouTube livestreams? (I hope not, I enjoy those)

Dizchu
March 12th 2024


551 Comments


What all the great power metal bands have in common is that, while cheesy, they're conjuring images of fantasy realms and epic quests or whatever. It's escapism. Leaning into "self-awareness" brings attention to the artifice of it all.

Ebola
March 12th 2024


4522 Comments


Awesome review. Excited to check this out.
Extremely minor typo in the final paragraph: You added a space before the period following "in tact"



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