Label: Electric Generation Recordings
Release Date: April 15, 2012
When I was told about power metal in 2005, a band called Dragonforce was introduced to me. I was given the Sonic Firestorm and Valley of the Damned albums and was told to brush up on my knowledge. The albums completely floored me and I was immediately hooked. Unfortunately, a year later, I would be supremely let down with the release of Inhuman Rampage. Sure the album had some great hooks but ultimately, it bored the hell out of me with its repetitive songs that seemed to drag on and blend together into one mass of…”Look how fast I can play!” awful. And then of course, the shit storm of Guitar Hero III, which shot Dragonforce onto a world-wide level of fame. It seemed everyone alive now loved Dragonforce because they beat “Through the Fire and the Flames” on easy, or if they had no life, expert.
My sacred world of heavy metal was being trashed, people thought they could play guitar because they could play a little plastic one, and Herman Li practically became a household name. I really think all of that instant fame and constant praise caused them to spiral downward, and that was confirmed to me when they released Ultra Beatdown. Not to mention touring with Slipknot and Disturbed… a power metal band? Really? Oh boy. I had nearly given up on Dragonforce, but still enjoyed their early albums where they seemed to actually think about their career and the songs they were writing. However, upon hearing the latest album, The Power Within they proved to me that they hadn’t sunk too far down to come back with a great album.
This band is now fronted by Marc Hudson, after original vocalist ZP Theart left the band due to musical differences. The new vocals really surprised me, as I hadn’t even heard the news until after listening to this album. Immediately I thought: “Something sounds refreshingly different,” and was quite surprised to hear of the changes. Marc is a relatively new face to the metal scene, as most of the members of Dragonforce are a bit older, and have been in multiple bands before. His vocals are impressive and solid and I could easily say I prefer his tone and range to those of ZP. When I found out he was 24, only a couple of years older than I am, I was even more impressed. His pipes are polished and professional, like those of a seasoned musician, not a newbie. On a side note, I appreciate how the band recorded the vocals as I don’t hear near as much “electronic” touches that the past couple albums had used. The vocals are strong and raw, not nearly as digitized which says a lot for Marc’s talent.
The guitar, bass, synth, and drums are just like I remembered. Any Dragonforce fan would know that signature guitar tone from all others. I do feel like the album is a lot less in your face than the previous mentioned releases, and that in no way is a bad thing. Someone, somewhere must have suggested that Dragonforce calm down a bit and concentrate on writing a GOOD song, not just a bunch of FAST ones. “Last Man Stands” is one of those GOOD songs, and even features the bass! I know… I was as shocked as you are right now to actually hear a bass feature in a Dragonforce song. But the lyrics in this song are actually poetic and surprisingly beautiful. The guitar melodies play so well together with the music and the chorus is so damn catchy. Not to leave out, the drums are hard and heavy but not overpowering everything else. There is a solid gallop throughout the entire song that really ties it all together.
All in all, this album surprised me in a way I really wasn’t expecting. For the longest time my reaction to someone talking about Dragonforce was a very snobby, cynical, or sarcastic remark. After hearing that Dragonforce can indeed produce good music again, my opinion has changed for the better and I am now looking forward to more material from them. I’d rate the album at a 7/10 because I sincerely appreciate the poetic feeling in most of the songs, not to mention the amazing synth touches that don’t overpower all of the other musicianship applied to the record as they’ve done in the past. Kudos to Dragonforce for restoring my faith in the power metal giant!