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This album is my favorite Dragonforce album. A lot of people hate the whole "really long songs, speed of light guitar work" thing, but personally I just think it's what they do. They have established their style and like them or not have definitely made a huge impact on the metal community. Dragonforce's plan is not to make you take them seriously, but to really enjoy their music and it's clear that they really enjoy it too, they just have so much fun with it and the energy is infectious. The style on this is basically streamlined from their first album and a little darker, while Valley of the Damned is all about glory and victory and dragons this one deals with the darker side of battle, the blood, death and destruction and the long marches home, but it also deals with hope.
The best songs on this album are My Spirit Will Go On, Fury of the Storm, Soldiers of the Wasteland and Above the Winter Moonlight. My Spirit will go on is especially loved by fans and is a live favorite, it's a fairly straightforward metal song with a really catchy chorus and some progressive elements thrown in towards the middle. The vocals on this album aside from the guitars (of course) are really the star of this album and this song especially. They kind of bridge the under produced sound of the first album and the overly layered and electronically filtered sound of the third album creating a really awesome sound and showing what a great vocalist ZP really is. Personally I rank him up there with Kotipelto and Kursch as one of the best metal singers of all time. I've heard people say they don't like his voice, but I really don't get why, he has an amazing voice, he can really nail those high notes and sings down low just as well and every note is crystal clear making for some really good vocal material. Fury of the Storm is another live favorite with another really good chorus and some crazy guitar playing that really shines in this song. Soldiers of the Wasteland is Dragonforce's first epic and first song to go over 7 minutes almost reaching the 10 minute mark. This song has everything an epic requires, sweeping vocals epic lyrics and some really good soloing, plus a slower section in the middle that really builds making the ending that much more exciting and again the epic vocals just make it so much more grand and awesome. Above the Winter Moonlight has my favorite chorus from this album and it really is awesome. The progressive part in the middle is also really good slowing things down a bit and building into a great ending, In fact this song could almost be mistaken for an epic as well. Now I do love every song on here, but it definitely has a bit of sameness throughout the whole thing. While most of the songs are unique, Fields of Despair and Prepare for war sound very similar and a lot of the guitar solos throughout sound kind of similar. Also as far as ballads go, Dawn over a New World is epic just as a power metal ballad should be, but it's just not that great, Starfire is much better.
All in all this is a very solid album and definitely the most solid album Dragonforce has released so far as well as the most catchy (that is until The Power Within).
Dragonforce is one of the most criticized names in the whole metal, probably because of their fame achieving by Guitar Hero means or because of a few awful live presentations they did on 2006-2007. Now, 'Sonic Firestorm' was before both of this events, and it was also the beginning of what they would call "extreme power metal", mainly because of the arrival of their (back in the day) new drummer, Dave Mackintosh. Dragonforce changed their style and the whole style of a genre into a new deal with this album, 'Sonic Firestorm'.
The album's main focus is on speed. Guitar riffs are extremelly fast, with a known formula of "power chord, root-riff, power chord" that works perfectly for them in all cases throughout the album. Mostly, in Dragonforce the bass cannot be heard, or at least in their third releae, 'Inhuman Rampage'. This is not the same case. Adrian Lambert does an excellent job backing up, standing out preciselly and accuratelly everywhere. Vadim Pruzhanov also does an amazing job in here. 'Valley of the Damned' lacked one thing, and that is the exact reason for it not to be as good as 'Sonic Firestorm'. That "thing" is keyboard solos. This album has keyboard solos in almost every song, and not whimpy keyboard solos, but really amazing stuff. "Soldiers of the Wasteland" has maybe the best solos I've ever heard by Dragonforce, considering the impressive solos they do, this tells a lot. Well, "Soldiers of the Wasteland" is not considered their best song because it just is, right? Drumming is what makes this album a new Dragonforce. Dave Mackintosh arrives the band and imposes a new sound, giving the "extreme" to the "power metal". Fast double-bass drumming, blastbeats and quick rhythms are the base of this.
I consider this to be the best of all Dragonforce albums because it has the most original sound, mixing the melodies amazing melodies from 'Valley of the Damned' with the extreme speed of the back then unreleased 'Inhuman Rampage', ZP's still then young vocals singing possibly the only Dragonforce lyrics that make sense, and of course, Li and Totman shredding the guitars up until your ears bleed.
If you seek the origin of the sound Dragonforce has eventually accomplished with senseful lyrics, amazing solos, exteme speed and nice sounding, this is specially for you. I believe that if you are a Dragonforce hater and you listen to this, you will stop hating them, this is just way to amazing to possibly hate the band.
Highlights: "My Spirit Will Go On", "Fury of the Storm", "Fields of Despair", "Once in a Lifetime", "Soldiers of The Wasteland", "Above the Winter Moonlight".
It can be easily said that Dragonforce created a new style of metal. Their sugary lyrics and melodies along with fast solos and omnipresent double bass allow them to deliver some of the fastest (and happiest) music of all time. This album has nothing actually new to add: Dragonforce simply followed the formula created at Valley of The Damned, abused of their skills, corrected almost everything there was to correct and ended up creating a masterpiece.
Why is it constantly bashed by thousands of metalheads then? First of all, this band lives a mutual love story with the mainstream, something that is, at least, uncommon for heavy metal bands. More traditional headbangers tend to feel that they are above the mainstream. They look down at it, and simply ignore what it has to offer. I am not trying to say that being praised by the mainstream is a proof of quality; I am simply saying that it's not a proof of lack of quality. However, the source of most unconstructive criticism is surely their Inhuman Rampage tour, where basically everything went wrong. We all know what happened there: the guitars were basically invisible, and when they appeared, the timbres sucked. The terrible tour (that happened right at the moment when Dragonforce was starting to get attention) spread rumors that they were just speeding the songs up in the studio for showing off, and could not actually play at such fast speeds. Since showing off is one of the worst crimes you could possibly be accused of in the metalhead community most of the headbangers that believed the rumors were outraged.
Anyway, musically speaking, this album is amazing. The guitars are extremely technical, the drumming is very fast and the vocals are emotional and epic. "Good Lord, that is the point, this is fucking Valley of The Damned 2.0", some might say. But Valley of The Damned 2.0 was what the band was going for: just like Amon Amarth, Dragonforce created a formula, and will stick to it until they feel like it needs repair. There's nothing wrong with their first full-length, so an improved version of it, with a production that is cleaner than a baby's ass (in contrast to Valley of The Damned's muddy production) sounds nice.
This album starts out in the best way possible: with a keyboards introduction that slowly speeds up, until the guitars come and make everyone headbang like crazy. Being extremely fast, most of these songs have potential to turn a crowd into a mass of crazed headbangers when played live. The album doesn't slow down until the forth song: "Dawn Over a New World" is an epic (but somehow cheesy) power ballad that allows you to rest a little before the crazed headbanging comes back. It is also the only song that some people might not like: after four minutes, you can't help but feel like it is way too long, since the chorus is repeated A LOT of times and the melody barely has any variation.
The highlights in this album are Fields of Despair, Once in a Lifetime, My Spirit Will Go On and Soldiers of The Wasteland. Yes, there are many, and yes, they have basically the same tempos, the same energetic and epic vocals and the same crazed solos. Yet each song sounds different from the others here. The band's optimistic side, shown in all of their melodies and in most of their lyrics (Face our fear along the way our freedom will prevail/The crown and the shining light... Lol) helps the atmosphere of this album, which is so intense that it easily makes you imagine the scenes that are described.
By the way, being optimistic doesn't make the lyrics good. Actually, when I began to critically analyze them, I realized that they are actually kind of silly. But just like Amon Amarth's ones, Dragonforce's lyrics manage to be extremely emotional even if they are simple.
The best moments of this album are Once in a Lifetime's chorus, the Pokémon-like guitar introduction in "Above the Winter Moonlight" and My Spirit Will Go On's introduction. Actually, forget it. Although these moments are great, this album is amazing in basically everything. It doesn't have one bad song, one bad solo, one sucky melody (in Dawn Over a New World the melodies are repetitive, NOT sucky) and will make anyone headbang like crazy if given the chance to. Enough said, go get Sonic Firestorm.
This album gets a lot of unconstructive criticism. A lot. It seems everyone is ready to bash Dragonforce for their aesthetics and lyrics, but then turn around and listen to Blind Guardian or Hammerfall. Some even debate whether this is power metal at all. This is on the same level as complaining that Bathory isn’t true black metal anymore, not that many would. The point is, confining a band to narrow genre restrictions to deny the melodic power of their music is stupid, as is complaining that their aesthetics don’t match yours 100% of the time. Dragonforce invented a new type of power metal on this and the previous album, Valley of the Damned. Before they became “tEh uber v1deo gAm3 pwn3rz,” they were maybe the first ever pop-power-metal band that wasn’t completely unlistenable.
However, this album has many problems. It’s got the pop-power metal formula down perfectly, but from there it’s like the band didn’t know what to do. “My Spirit Will Go On” is a true metal epic, and nobody should deny its pleasures. The next two songs are also successful, “Fury of the Storm” through pure exhilarating speed and “Fields of Despair” due to its fantastic sugary and melodic chorus and good use of keyboards. From there, the album as a whole goes downhill. “Dawn Over a New World” is their attempt at a power ballad, but it falls flat. It can’t grasp any tender emotions because Dragonforce is not capable of that. Dragonforce works when they blitzkrieg the listener, then let up a bit, like in “Soldiers of the Wasteland,” when the speed runs give way to an epic melodic build-up. “Dawn over a New World” is one-dimensional, and the affected vocals are pretty unconvincing. The rest of the album’s songs, individually are good. However, many cut/paste the same solos from ear lier songs, which is why, despite the amazing formula, it is hard to give this album an excellent rating.
Those who criticize them for writing the same song over and over again are not too far off acually. Individually, aside from occasionally overwhelmingly cheesy moments (the triumphant melodies in the intro “Once in a Lifetime”), these songs are all stunning. At least, when I have my iPod on shuffle, I always stop to listen to these songs. “Once in a Lifetime” in particular has a stunning pop-metal chorus and pre-chorus. Even when the’re singing about absolute nonsense (their lyrical range is hilarious), it is still ENTERTAINING. I might mention that one of the solos is barely modified from the “My Spirit Will Go On” template, but the song is still a blast. The problem is, a whole album of the one formula, plus the necessary ballad, makes it sound a bit gimmicky and one-dimensional. Still, all metal and rock fans should just let their guard down and listen to this album without pretensions. Not every album is gonna be a sombre or evil masterpiece like “Theli,” or “Abigail,” or “Nightfall.” So, you shouldn't deny the charm of this album, even if you feel you are "above" liking this kind of music.
When the opening track started to unfold upon my aural senses, I was expecting mastery. As the song opened, it turned into a rather fast song with rhythms accompanied by drums somewhat akin to that of Rhapsody's generic sound, only the soloing is fast...And that's basically it. The music from there on, consists of basically 3 elements: Generic drumming, annoying vocals, and incessantly hyperactive guitar-playing with no particular style, with the exception of "Dawn Over a New World," which was just as annoying as the other songs, only slow, with a piano and some accoustic guitars (Oooo no fucking way!).
I thought, initially, that perhaps the instrumental wankery may cease to retain presence on the disc after the first track, but I was horrifically mistaken. It sticks to the inside of your ears for the whole 56 minutes.
Basically, what you hear in track number 1 is just cut, repeated and recylced into every single other song. The only differences between every song are different lyrics and the tempo (which most are in the bracket of 140-220 bpm anyway). Other than those two things, every song, basically, is just a repeated version of track 1.
"Oh Chris, you should check out DragonForce! They are fucking crazy, you will love them."
I want to find the person who said that to me so long ago, and behead him with the edge of a brick.
There is no bass in this album. None whatsoever. I don't know why the bassist is in the album, you can't even hear him; all you can hear is annoying mid-range girly vocals, excessively and incessantly fast drums, ridiculous and repetative solos and a whole hell-load of wank.
And the GUITARISTS! It gets absolutely ridiculously annoying how Herman and his gay little pal, Sam Titman, have wank-sex in every set of recording or live performance, rather than actually sit down and play some worthy melodies, or play some slow, stylish solos. You'd think for such a "well-rounded" and "talented" band, they might actually place some songs...But no, just like every group of trend-setting power-metal bands, they are speedy, wanky and generic.
I gave this album 10 points, because in one track, "Dawn Over a New World," they decided to deviate from the mindless wankery and actually play a song (even though it basically has the same melody structure of every single other song) that doesn't sound like a bunch of suzuki-trained guitarists, keyboardists and drummers trying to have a jerking competition.
These guys have speed and skill, and that's basically all they have going for them. It just sucks that they aren't musical or talented in any way. God, what an annoying album.
Don't waste your money on this hog shit, it's not worth a fucking fart. Put your wallet back in your pocket and go to another store. This is crap.
While DragonForce may make me really angry these days, they were actually one of the bands to get me into metal with the opening track of this album "My Spirit Will Go On" (more on this song later). And this album was one I looked forward to getting for a long, long time. And I did eventually, and while my tastes have long since matured from the naive metalhead I was back then, this album still has some fun fuckin' songs on it.
The gimmick with DragonForce is how fast and energetic they are. Seriously, on most of these songs, it's Mach V speed all the way through. Sure, they use computers to speed up their solos and add more riffs, and sure, ZP Theart's voice is remniscent of an 80s hair band singer at times. And yes, their lyrics are horribly cheesy and generic, almost a satire of the Power Metal genre as a whole. But hell, this is addictive. They're so simple and fun, catchy and glorious, that you can't help but love this album. They're practically the Manowar of Power Metal, in a sense.
"My Spirit Will Go On", "Fury of the Storm", and "Fields of Despair" are all uptempo power metal speed crackers with great choruses and memorable riffs. The opening keyboards of the first track still get me fired up today, nearly 2 years after I discovered the band. The token ballad "Dawn Over A New World" is passable, but not stellar. "Above the Winter Moonlight" and "Prepare For War" are both average Power Metal tunes, and I like them enough, although they're not my favorites. "Soldiers of the Wasteland" is the best song DragonForce ever wrote, with a galloping Iron Maiden-ish riff and a more midpaced style to it. Hey, they can do something else after all! "Once in a Lifetime" and "Cry of the Brave" are both stunning Power Metal anthems with great choruses, couldn't get these out of my head for weeks when I first heard em.
This album does wear thin after a while, and it's certainly not a masterpiece in any means. It's cheesy and the singer really does sound like an 80s Glam singer for some parts of the record. This album has flaws, but hell, it's the kind of cheesy that makes you proud to be a metal fan, in the way that Manowar do (don't think DragonForce have much in common with Manowar musically, because there's not really many comparisons there...). Recommended to people who don't have to take their music seriously. Plus, without this album, I might not be the same metal fan I am today, despite how I realize the flaws in it now. Put this in for a big, healthy helping of true metal mozzerella and laugh and headbang along with these goofballs.
This is the second studio effort of British power metal outfit Dragonforce. Although the amount of evolution in sound and style from the previous album is rather limited, there are several noteworthy points. The primary one is the increased prominence of the keyboards, owing to the fact that Vadim was present in the band when all the songs were written. Another is the change of the guard in the percussion department. Didier was a highly impressive drummer, but Dave Mackintosh takes my vote for the God of speed. The drum beats in many of these songs are so fast that it is difficult for the mind to comprehend.
In the soloing department, Sam and Herman are continuing to shred up a storm, but the rhythm riffs and shorter lead riffs have grown more intricant and complex. Furthermore, the usage of different guitar timbres has grown considerably, making for a more dense and complex texture in each composition. ZP Theart is still wailing away with the best of them in the voice department, and the bass work is on par with the last studio effort.
Production is a bit better, particularly the vocals, which sounded a bit distant on the previous album. The guitar sound is a bit more processed, where as on "Valley of the Damned" the sound was very raw, particularly the rhythm parts. The drums also sound a bit cleaner on this album, and that is more of a positive when considering the balance of sound in this genre, which demands a clean sound in order to be comprehended.
Now for the break down of the individual songs.
My Spirit Will Go On (10/10) - Great atmospheric intro, followed by 6 minutes of intricant changes and amazing solo work.
Fury of the Storm (10/10) - Drums fly like the wind, as does all other instruments in play here. ZP Theart's vocals are particularly on point here.
Fields of Despair (10/10) - Highly catchy chorus surrounded by yet more blistering speed. This one is the top track by my own personal measure.
Dawn Over a New World (8/10) - The sole ballad on this album, and very similar to the somewhat lackluster effort on the previous album in this regard. Here we see a more interesting piano line and a bit more of a cohesive arrangement. The lyrics are also more interesting.
Above the Winter Moonlight (10/10) - The lone compositional offering of keyboardist Vadim Pruzhanov. Loaded with keyboard work and yet another awesome and catchy chorus. The second best work on this album.
Soldiers of the Wasteland (10/10) - Totman's largest scale work on this album, basically a rather curious merging of the virtuousity of his work on Black Fire on the previous album and the variations found on Valley of the Damned. Alot of changes here, but still easy to follow.
Prepare for War (9/10) - Another of Herman's compositions, this one has a somewhat weaker chorus than Fields of Despair, but still an incredible energy to it. Alot of complex guitar riffs, and some excellent vocal work.
Once in a Lifetime (9/10) - Another of Totman's rather high speed and heavily thematic anthems of triumph and hope. The rationale behind the more uplifting song as a closer is obviously to cancel out some of the more dramatic and somber works in the middle of the album, as was the case with the last album. Although I can understand this reasoning, this approach robs the album of a more dramatic closer.
In conclusion, if you are looking for ground-breaking musical innovation, look elsewhere, this music is geared towards a very specific audience. It is unapologetic in it's approach, and is not for the slow of mind or the dim of wit. Dragonforce knows what brings out the spirit of the power metal faithful, and that is who this album is intended for.
DragonForce is a new band to me. But they've made their name long ago. A friend of mine once told me that Sonic Firestorm made him bang his head throughout the whole album, which made me wonder how fast and how melodic DragonForce is. Actually, what they have done in the genius album really impressed me and almost exceeded my expectation.
The first time I enjoyed the album, I was so excited that I couldn't help smiling in that DragonForce is the unique PowerMetal band that outperforme other cheesy ones. After several times' enjoying, the structure of the songs are predictable, though. They just begin with extremely fast guitar riffs, together with the blastbeats of drums. The melody of the choruses are Rhapsody-like and Freedom Call-like. Take "Fury of the Storm" as an example, it turned into a section of powerful riff after the first chorus. However, the most fascinating and excting part is the crowing endless solos. I can't imagine how they did it!! The holy solo is just breathholding and every time I suppose the solo is over, they just continue to longer and more incredible ones, decorated by some guitar skills. Just imagine the amount of the melody they have created, the solo can overcome anyone who loves power metal when they listen to Dragonforce for the first time. Despite the mighty solos, the songs they composed just sound the same except for one called "Dawn over a New World". This is a typical metal ballad with power influence. It begins with beautiful piano, and then comes metal riffs and the song develops in an Edguy-like way with some inspiring lyrics.
For all that DragonForce is unique, dfferent from any other bands, and really have established themselves in their own style, they suck in some ways. Firstly, every song exept the ballad sounds the same. Secondly, as a power metal band with some symphonic and epic influence, they should have created more changes in tempo but the music just develops in a fast and straightforward way. In short, if they had picked up some elements from bands like Angra(Holy Land) or Heavenly(Dust to Dust), their music could have been more interesting.
In a word, "Sonic Firestorm" is a decent and awesome album. It has some shortcomings as well. Considering the incredible and innovative solos, I would like to recommend it to every power metal head, and if you like swift solos, you can't miss it. Check it out!
There's an off-shoot of techno called 'Happycore' or 'Happy Hard-core' as it's also known. Basically, Happycore consists of super fast beats and repetitive yet catchy melodies. It's totally braindead, but load yourself up with E or Crystal Meth or whatever and you'll have a fun time dancing to it until you pass out from exhaustion.
Why did I tell you this? Because Dragonforce are the Happycore-ists of Metal. The power metal scene is fairly crowded, so when Dragonforce came along, they must've thought "Hmm, everything's already been done. Guess we'll just play the same music at twice the tempo. That'll get 'em interested." There's not a lot of subtlety (although some Keyboard parts are well done) but there's crystal clear production, super fast guitars. insane guitar (and keyboard!) solos and a happy mood throughout the whole album.
It's a simple formula that works very well in this album. While everything is super fast, all the instruments are played tightly, and there's a lot of guitar riffs and vocal lines here that'll stick in your head for years. The super happy chorus of Fury of the Storm and Soldiers of the Wasteland are probably the highlights here, but every song's got a memorable vocal line. Singer's got a decent voice too. Still, it sounds a bit like he takes himself too seriously. Oh well.
The guitars deserve a big mention. I don't listen to a huge amount of power metal, so there might be a faster band around somewhere, but I'm yet to hear them. The massive solo in Fury of the Storm has an absolutely mindblowing ending, definetly the fastest guitar work I've ever heard. There's super fast solos in every song, from My Spirit will Go On, to Fields of Despair, To Once in a Lifetime... Yeah, there's some massive lead work going on here. The rythym guitars are pretty awesome too, they won't make as big an impression as the solos do, but they're tight, fast and heavy. Imagine Iron Maiden played at twice the speed and you're halfway there.
The rest of the instruments deliver as well, except for the bass maybe, just because it's mixed real low. The drums are fairly simple, but super fast.. They don't play a big role, but they do their job. The keyboards are actually fairly subtle in some places on this album, but even they do the occaisonal ripping solo, which is a nice touch. They're a bit cheesy once in a while, but oh well, can't have everything.
So basically this is a good, super fast power metal album. It may not be the most original album ever but it's one of the fastest albums ever. Good for lifting weights or headbanging to, just try not to think too much. Well worth buying.
I've heard so much praising about this album, and how DragonForce is one of the most insane and fastest power metal bands ever, and bla bla bla, so I decided to get the album and see that for myself. Upon first listen, I was amazed. My Spirit Will Go On kicks in with quite a powerful riff and amazing lead guitar playing. Then, you have the typical power metal cliches: double bass drum at full speed, soaring vocals, catchy/cheesy chorus... still, these guys manage to do it kind of differently, as their guitar playing is some of the best I've heard in a long time, showing that there are still guitar virtuosos at a time where guitars are becoming more and more a simple rythm instrument. The vocals are averagely decent, another unoriginal Mikael Kiske rip-off. Not bad, but nothing to write home about.
What's best about Sonic Firestorm, is the general atmosphere. Power metal usually has a happy atmosphere, and this is no exception; but this is a different kind of happy atmosphere. The band always mentioned that their music has a lot of influence taken from old-school RPG's and stuff, and after you listen to their music, you'll understand why. The soaring choruses and vocals, the keyboard-sounding guitar solos (not keyboard, I've seen the band live and they are quite capable of playing the solos), the epic intros to the songs... just makes you want to grab a Megadrive or a NES and play those old RPG's, with the anime-like graphics and stuff. Listen to the intro in "Above The Winter Moonlight": that intro would fit perfectly as a soundtrack to those old NES Final Fantasy games. Their lyrics even add more to that feeling: the typical cheesy power metal themes, but with a good vocabulary unlike most bands of this gender.
The main flaw? Lack of variety. It's very cool to listen to about four songs of headbanging speed metal like riffs and catchy chorus, but afer that you will probably start to get bored. The solos always break the monotony, but it's not enough to save the album. Gladly, there are only eight songs, so you can actually enjoy half of it without getting annoyed.
So, you've got an album packed with great riffs and leads and an amazing atmosphere that mixes epicity with speed-metal headbanging. However, it could have been a lot better, and it doesn't stand out as much as it should; nothing that Stratovarius or Edguy haven't done a million times already (athough probably not half as fast). Still, a good album for anyone who likes fast happy metal!
Best Songs: My Spirit Will Go On, Fury Of The Storm, Above The Winter Moonlight, Soldiers Of The Wasteland
You might ask, “what the fuck is he reviewing a power metal album for? I’m never reading this guy’s reviews again”… You may be right in asking it, but I hope I do get the chance to explain myself. These guys are a novelty band. This is all they have going for them, besides their usual really catchy songs.
These guys are fucking fast. They are probably the fastest band I have heard, which of course doesn’t mean there isn’t anybody faster, but meh. Their name is cheesy, their lyrics horribly cheesy, and the melodies make Wisconsin look like the tiniest crumb of cheddar. But they are infectious as hell. The lead guitarist, Herman Li, is a very inventive soloist, and as he states in the notes, takes most of his influence from video game music, which is very apparent. The drummer is insanely fast, and I bet his arm will fall off in no time if he keeps abusing his snare like this. The bassist is AUDIBLE (wtf mate?), which is rare in power metal. The choruses work very well with the music, even in 7 minute-plus songs. All the songs are really long actually. People might get annoyed by the repeated melodies, but at the speed it goes, it doesn’t really matter.
I don’t know whether I’m just hypnotized by their insane rhythm or the actual music, but I like this. It’s too much fun! I’m sorry…
This band is absolutely breathtaking, and this album is no exception to that. The sheer speed that they can all play is amazing, Herman and Sam playing in perfect co-ordination and creating some breathtaking break-neck riffs, and dual blast solos. ZP's vocals shrieking out over the riffing, telling us of tales of past warriors' feats in battle! Amazing.
Of course, the solos need the most mentioning. They are probably some of the fastest I've heard for a long time, and are perfectly performed live as they are in the studio (after seeing them live a while ago, and not faultering at all), it truly is amazing to see for a band so young in their career. To be performing such musical feats, without going wrong. The drums may be triggered, but it really doesn't take away anything from the song, as they aren't the dominant instrument, and all they do is perform the under-lying speed for the guitars to roar over.
Now, some people say this band can't perform ballads, but I must disagree. I feel that Dawn Over A New World is a very heart-felt song, and ZP's performance is brilliant and very soulful. Of course the guitars won't be blasting away, but I feel they are competant in accompanying ZP in the song.
Honestly, can this band do no wrong? The first album was almost perfect, and was my best album of last year. This is my third best album of this year, due to some other releases. But, yet, this is still an album to definately pick up, even if you're not generally a fan of power metal, as it seems to impress most with it's pure speed and feeling.
Remember Nitro? Their gimmick was "the fastest, loudest, highest sound around"... yeah, I think that's what these kids are going for. This faux power metal, to most people, is "blisteringly fast" and has "amazing solos", but that's only if you try to keep up and confuse yourself.
Yes, the guitars might be incredibly fast, but they're fast like Emperor's... no substance, the same riffing through the entirety of the 6+ minute song (excepting the solos, of course). The lead guitar seems backed by the keys at numerous points, obviously to cover up errors on the guitarist's part, and the solos get redundant after the second 2-3 minute set of them. Certainly nothing amazing, or even worth mention, if you've heard any of the shredders of the late 80's. The guitar tone itself is simply obnoxious, making some of the worst noises I've ever heard.
The bass is non-existant, the drums triggered and the keys your standard lazor sound. Overall there is nothing to this band except their speed, and in reality, their music reeks of "amateur". It also reeks of "studio band". I am 99% certain this band would fall flat on their faces live, and after watching a live performance of theirs I have been proven correct through their sheer inability to play their own material.
The vocals are standard mid-range power metal vocals with an annoying occasional warble. The vocalist only seems to know two melodies: The Generic Power Metal Song and The Sea-Shanty. Yeah, there's the occasional ballad... there's one on every power metal album. Who cares. Moving on!
Overall, this band has no substance and make me think of three bands:
Nitro, Emperor and Hammerfall.
Combining the speed of Nitro, the deceptively simple writing of Emperor and the pop sensibility of Hammerfall, we get DragonForce. Is that a good thing? To the kids, maybe. To me, definitely not. This album bores me to tears within the first 3 tracks... and in listening to the rest of the album, it seems to be the same song rehashed over and over again.
The length of that song is definitely one issue. 7-8 minute songs are alright if they do something, but when it's the same repetitious (though fast!) riffing for 3 minutes with a 5 minute meandering solo slapped on the end, it does get a little mind-numbing... and the urge to hit that stop butting grows ever higher.
I guess mindless wankfests, slapped atop generic power metal, played as rapidly as possible in the hope that I won't notice the genericism or lack of ability in it just aren't my thing.
Well, this is one of those albums that everyone thinks about before it came out. I mean, after the incredibly fast nature of the first album, one of the fastest I had ever listened to, I had to wonder if they were going to mellow out and release some “normal” power metal
I needn’t have worried.
Opening with “my spirit will go on” this album blasts off at a million miles an hour. Not the fastest song on the album, but quite possibly the best. I say “not the fastest” but its still bloody fast! Very epic this one, mirroring “Valley of the damned” (the song) but far superior. Instantly the improvements in the band become clear. The production is much, much better. You can actually listen to this album on headphones and still hear the singer! And the guitar sound is much clearer also. Talking about the singer, he has improved ten fold since the first album. He doesn’t instantly go into scream mode when he hits the high notes like he did on the first album, but instead controls his voice much more. The Guitarists throw in masses of solo’s – Very fast solos, and the new drummer is just as intense as the old one!
After that, we hit “fury of the storm” fitting title as this one goes along even faster than the first. It also has some really cool sing along lyrics. Catchiness doesn’t exclude this lot! Then its “Fields of despair” starts rather more midpaced, well midpaced by this band is faster than anything Blind guardian ever did, so I suppose that is quite fast! Very good chorus as ususal, and then the speed well and truly picks up. Great song.
Then we hit the ballad “Dawn over a new world” I was fearing that there was going to be more than one ballad on here, as I couldn’t stand “starfire” off their first album. But this ballad owns it in every single respect. The melody is much more catchy, and it uses lots of piano work – one of the few things I find makes good ballads (c.f. gamma ray “a while in dreamland” for that) A very good ballad, with an interesting heavy guitar in it as well.
Back up to speed with “Above the winter moonlight” I wish they made a ballad on that synth intro, as that intro rules!!! Still, this is a belter of a track. Interesting lyrics as always (catchy) and very fast!
“Soldiers of the wasteland” follows, and this is the longest track on the album by a fair distance, being nearly ten minutes long. After an intro, we hit a machine gun guitar with a really cool keyboard melody and lots of orchestration following it. Despite its length, it doesn’t seem epic like “My spirit will go on” more, well, a ten minute long belter. Lots of guitar solos, lots of fun, great stuff.
“Prepare for war” is next. Different type song this one lots of duelling guitars start it off, with the drums giving a pounding tune. Very riffy in parts this one, rare for this band (its usually the solos that are the best bit of this band, but it’s the rhythm guitars here. It also has a mellow section in the middle, which is different I suppose, but its still got a good catchy melody which retains interest (iced earth, you could learn something here) and then it flies off at great speed once more.
Finally “once in a lifetime” This does remind me of “Valley of the damned” a lot this track, but it has a wonderful rhythm guitar intro, which sounds great, probably the most memorable Rhythm section on the album, before an equally memorable vocal section. A great end to a great album.
Problems? Not many really. Just like the first album, it can occasionally seem a little samey. That is a matter of taste, but 900 miles an hour through a song won’t work forever. True they did experiment somewhat on this one compared to the first, but they do need to broaden their horizons. Also, the lyrical matter though catchy, isn’t really saying anything, I like lyrics which tell a story, and these do not (though no where in the same league of crappy lyrics that Judas priest has)
All in all then, a great album, great stuff, go and get it!
I’m sure I’ve heard this record before. Maybe it’s the fact that, in structure, it is almost a carbon copy of DragonForce’s 1st album, Valley of the Damned? Or maybe it’s because almost all songs are based on chord progressions which are utterly predictable?
This album follows a very similar blueprint to the debut, recorded a year before:
Big anthemic opener? Check – My Spirit Will Go On
Relentless second track played at lightspeed with best solos on the album? Check – Fury of the Storm
More upbeat third track? Check – Fields of Despair
Forgettable Ballad as track 4? Check – Dawn Over a New World
Fifth track with mid-section jazzy breakdown? Check – Above the Winter Moonlight
Unbelievably gay opening of track 6? Check – Soldiers of the Wasteland
Awesome opening of track 7? Check – Prepare for War
Flowerfest intro to final track? Check – Once in a Lifetime (I honestly thought they had fucked up the production and put in Heart of a Dragon)
Add in massive homosexual moments – is that diabolical Casio keyboard intro to Above the Winter Moonlight necessary? Bloody hell, what in Satan’s name is that stand alone chorus at the beginning of Soldiers of the Wasteland?; and can’t ZP sing a whole song without mentioning the words “ride”, “steel” and “glorious”? – and you have, on paper, a run of the mill flower fest which make Rhapsody sound more sinister than rehtaF ruO.
But, and there’s a big but, the sextet again pull out all the stops by having an enormous amount of fun along the way, with catchy hooks, riffs, singalong chorus’ (which a deaf person could predict) and, of course, SOLOS. Monstrously melodic shredding solos. By the dozen.
Now if you thought VotD was self-indulgent, just wait until you hear the 12 solo trade off section in Solos…er.. Soldiers of the Wasteland. If that’s not showing off, I don’t know what is. The booklet which comes with the cd is quite fun too, the two guitarists are clearly pleased with their efforts and have no shame in adding full solo credits for each song.
Take Fury of the Storm:
Solos: Sam /Sam + Herman / Herman / Sam / Sam + Herman / Sam / Herman / Sam / Herman + Sam / Herman / Herman (clocking in at 2’40”, solo section of the album);
Or the aforementioned Soldiers of the Wasteland:
Twin Blast / Sam / Herman / Herman / Herman / Vadim / Sam / Herman / Sam / Vadim / Herman / Herman + Sam + Vadim (a paltry 2’20” by comparison)
Even some of the solos are pretty similar to those on VotD. Herman’s epic opener on the track VotD is mimicked perfectly by himself and Sam during one of those ‘Twin Blasts’ in Fields of Despair– see if you can spot it. It also strikes me that part of DragonForce’s sound is that all solos must obey the widdle-widdle-widdle-widdle-widdle-widdle-widdle-SQUEAL pattern – the shrieking harmonic done to death here.
So, what actually is different from VotD? In structure, next to nothing, but in purely instrumental terms, there are more mature moments. Prepare for War, for instance, nods in Michael Romeo’s direction from the lead riff, which works well. Above the Winter Moonlight, despite the awful keyboard intro, is perhaps one of the most unique sounding DragonForce songs, complete with a jazzy interlude, some intricate keyboard work, and it being a touch slower than the rest of the songs. The keyboard moments in the breakdown bring back memories of staying up late at night playing Midnight Resistance with volume on max. The solos in this aren’t played at lightspeed so Sam/Herman allow the listener to hear their more emotional side. Especially Sam, who is much more impressive than he was on the debut cd - a good thick tone, married with some ultra-fast playing which more than matches Herman, in places.
There are other cameo appearances throughout the cd. From 0’30 to 1’30 on Soldiers of the Wasteland, anyone else notice Tetris being played somewhere in the mix? Celine Dion pops in to say “hi” at times, which is perhaps the most cringeworthy of moments on Sonic Firestorm, e.g. at 4’25” on Prepare for War, and all too often during the unlistenable ballad. The end of My Spirit Will Go On has a harmonized run which is pure Children of Bodom worship – end of Hatebreeder (the song), check it out. There’s a classic moment in Dawn Over a New World where you feel ZP is going to do his best Elvis impression: “We can go on forever… (with suspicious minds…).” And at times, the bass sound in the breakdowns to tracks 2 and 6 is straight out of Keeper-era Helloween.
Finally, the guitar work overall is slightly more cogent. Whereas on VotD, most solos were single tracked, here more than half are doubled up (despite what the booklet says), and in some cases are backed by a lower harmonized riffset. Yes! Four-part guitar harmonies, bringing back fond memories of the mid-section of Iron Maiden’s “The Duellists”. The thick, dark sounding bridge in Fury of the Storm is quite unexpected, and that almost inebriated opening riff to Fields of Despair works well.
So, overall, a good follow up to Valley of the Damned. Not as consistent as the debut, but mindblowing at times (opening triple assault). It’s not going to win anything for originality, but it’s a nice slab of cheesy power metal played at blistering speed, slightly more diverse and of course, damn fun.
I was awaiting this release with curiosity mixed with anticipation. Can they make some minor adjustments after Valley of the Damned and go on a destructive rampage without looking back? There is a clearer production, but as far as anything else it is more of the same. There is also a matter of song structure and what I call complete tracks. I expect a song to come full circle at one point and repeat various parts. Some DragonForce songs are so overwhelming that it feels that nothing is repeated at first listen. After a few listens you pick up how song tempo changes at the right moment and begin to notice the melody not apparent at first. The songs themselves have non-traditional structure and keep you guessing with the chaotic shredding and keyboard parts. The vocals are slightly harsher than debut, while still clean sounding.
The ballad “Dawn over a new world” is much better than the ballad on the debut. There is a familiar feel to it, but it is quite unpredictable at the same time. That is the only song that sounds like it could have been done by another band, because the other tracks have no chance of being confused with vanilla power metal. The melody on it sounds like a Metallica ballad of all things.
The rest, well the rest of the songs have so many changes and riffs that I cannot keep track. Pretty much every song warms up for the first 30 seconds before going hyper and blowing speakers into dust. Then there is the occasional duel between the lead guitar and the drums(!) part, the keyboard intro and middle part, blast beats and mid paced vocals part with guitars in the background, the final chorus section which is faster and also being the only place where backing vocals are used. “Above the winter moonlight” has a very unique sounding intro, and probably my favourite song on here, it is so cool to listen to the vocalist trying to keep up with the drums speed. Looks like someone has been practicing. All songs have a signature melody running through them while remaining chaotic, though as I have mentioned, you are not likely to pick it up on your first listen.
Over the last week I have discovered that once you focus on specific instruments, this album exhibits more diversity than Valley of the Damned, an example of that for the guitar would be Prepare for War at about 4.01. Replay value is high for me due to the joy of discovery of solos and riffs that last for mere seconds, while sounding good enough for a more ordinary band to center the whole song around it.
Yes it is same DragonForce sound we know; yes it is faster than light and perhaps faster than debut if such a thing is possible. Yes you can headbang to the slower parts and then stop at the right moment, or risk decapitation. As far as overall quality it’s just as good as debut, with added bonus of improved production making the sound thicker. The wait is over, feel the fury of the storm!
... Boundries, that is. DragonForce, currently, are the top speed demons of metal. Blistering speed is what this international group of musicians are all about, yet while maintaining a beautiful, melodic sound. The sheer speed on this record blows Darkness Descends out of the water, and THAT is an accomplishment. With the all too familiar line up of the vocalist ZP Theart, guitarists Herman "Shred" Li and Sam Totman, bassist Adrian Lamber, drummer David Mackintosh, and keyboardist Vadim Pruzhanov, let's begin the review.
Riding high off the success with the smash hit Valley of the Damned, DragonForce has an incredible test ahead of them. They needed to make some better, stronger, faster, yet very graceful. This time through, the production sounds worked through and plotted out, to give off the impression DragonForce has become more mature in their work, and have become more confident in what they want to achieve. If this gem is what they were looking for, then they have found it. A special note to Mackintosh, the former drummer of Bal-Sagoth, keep 'dem blast beats coming! The solos, like always, mop the floor with any other band out there, Shred gives the glossy, polished solos that made DragonForce famous, whereas partyholic Sam gives the strong, backbone solos that can move you. Wow, backbone solos. Only in DragonForce, folks.
Starting off with, "My Spirit Will Go On," I love the intro to it. Very dark, a huge build up of evil things to come, and it undoubtedly left me with a feeling of urgency. Before I know what was happening, the melodic, upbeat song had hit, with all its righteous speed and power. "Above The Winter Moonlight" is a speedy race for something that just keeps getting farther away, and is very inspiring for some reason. Not as inspiring as, "Soldiers of the Wasteland," though. This song gives you such a strong sense of battle, a sense to unleash your primal anger in a way only the fury of DragonForce could bring you; all this in a ten minute epic of enourmous size, too! "Fury of the Storm," well, the name sums it up. Another song that gives me corny images of gargantuan battles, but what here doesn't? "Dawn Over a New World," that's for sure. These guys are the 10 Dans of furious, upbeat, hyper-rush music, but YOU GUYS CANNOT DO BALLADS. OK. GET IT THROUGH YOUR FUCKING HEADS. Uh . . . Oh -- Sorry about that. Anyway, overall, it's the same basic feeling that Valley of the Damned had, just revamped in everything except the solos. I prefer the Valley of the Damned solos more.
So there we have it, boys and girls. The only happy music known to man that can take on the giants of ...well, METAL, and come out victorious. I would have given this a ninety-eight, but they used the same basic layout. Although, I love that layout to death, and will never get sick of it. Samantha Barrett è la ragazza più grande da esistere mai. L'OH e la GRANDINE DRAGOFORZA!!!