I have been a fan of the Grammy-nominated, UK based extreme melodic power metal band, Dragonforce ever since I was introduced to them in 2006. This was the year “Inhuman Rampage” was released and the album that catapulted them into the mainstream. Recently though, they have fallen off my radar slightly and when the chance to review their brand new album came up, I couldn’t say no.
Formed in 1999 by guitarists Herman Li and Sam Totman, under the name Dragonheart, they had to change their name to Dragonforce in 2002 after they discovered another power metal band had the same name. Known for their long and fast guitar solos, fantasy themed lyrics and electronic sounds, the Dragonforce success and reputation is largely down to the guitar wizardry of both Li and Totman and they have a retro video game-influenced sound that is always paid homage to in their videos.
Dragonforce is power metal, played at ridiculously fast speeds with extended guitar solos and catchy, if somewhat cheesy, choruses and this can turn some people off them, so it was interesting to see if their new album “Reaching Into Infinity”, released on 19th May 2017, carried on in the same way.
“Reaching into Infinity” is the band’s seventh studio album, the third to feature ‘new’ singer Marc Hudson (who has actually been frontman for six years now after former singer ZP Theart’s departure in 2010!), and the first to feature new drummer, italian Gee Anzalone, and has been released by Metal Blade Records.
So, is this ‘just another’ Dragonforce album?
With the bulk of the album laid down at Fascination Street Studios in Sweden, with some additional parts cut in at studios around the UK and California while on the “Killer Elite” tour, the album was produced by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Katatonia and Soilwork) with most of the songs written by Frederic Leclerq and Sam Totman.
There are still the duelling guitar harmonies, drums that never take a break, orchestral synthesizers and epic lyrics that make up the Dragonforce trademark sound, but they have also undergone a bit of an evolution in the three years since their last album “Maximum Overload.” As per their PR notes, musically speaking “the band’s faster material is becoming even faster still, while the melodic parts head even further in that direction.” This could be the influence of vocalist Marc Hudson, who is a fan of progressive metal or the fact that keyboardist Vadim Pruzhanov is a big Dream Theater fan, but either way I think it adds to their sound. Everything is not done at breakneck speed on this album, the listener is not whizzed on a hundred mile an hour journey through 45 minutes of metal that has been played as fast as Li and Totman’s fingers could possibly go! There are speed changes throughout the album, sometimes throughout a track and this is a welcome change. They have a more generic power metal sound but with the Dragonforce twist.
Says Herman Li, “in some ways this album is more epic than anything we’ve done before. With each album we make the band reveal more and more of its influences, constantly adding to what we do.”
And the band offer no apology for the inclusion of the 1980’s rock style ballad titled “Silence” either. And why should they? Some people would think that for a band with a sound like Dragonforce, a power ballad is just a waste of time, but personally I love a good power ballad and this one is done well. It has all the elements that make a good power ballad and being half way through it offers a few minutes solace from the speed and velocity of the rest of the album. So I say, well done Dragonforce, this song alone proves there is more to you than just breakneck speed guitar playing!
Another song to point out is “War!” a track that mixes thrash with power metal. Hudson has already proved he has the voice to be a power metal singer but with this track he has shown he has the thrash element too.
The last but one track “Edge of the World” is an 11-minute, multi-tempoed epic that features something Dragonforce have never done before…..growling vocals!! How about that for an evolution in their music?
And the last thing to mention, is the fantastic artwork on the sleeve of the album which depicts a dragon (yay!) bursting through a wormhole into a high tech, futuristic cityscape. Says Li: “the dragon represents us – Dragonforce – and a form of music that’s been around for a very long time, emerging into an outside world that’s infinitely more crazy and chaotic than it was 10 years ago.”
So, there you have it. The new album from Dragonforce is NOT “just another album” by them. It is an evolution, a progression in their musical journey and one I think they possibly needed to make.
Listening to the album took me back a decade, and although I was in a much different place then, it was nice to be reminded of the music I used to listen to.
I saw them at The Astoria in Dec 2006 and, after listening to this album, I am planning on seeing them this October at The Electric Ballroom!
Like them or not, Dragonforce are back!
01. Reaching into Infinity
02. Ashes of the Dawn
03. Judgement Day
04. Astral Empire
05. Curse of Darkness
07. Midnight Madness
09. Land of Shattered Dreams
10. The Edge of the World
11. Our Final Stand
Herman Li – Guitars, Vocals (backing)
Sam Totman – Guitars, Vocals (backing)
Vadim Pruzhanov – Keyboards, Vocals (backing)
Frédéric Leclercq – Bass, Vocals (backing, choirs)
Marc Hudson – Vocals
Gee Anzalone – Drums, Vocals (backing)
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dawn Smith, The Metal Asylum and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities
Originally posted on Ever Metal