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Release the dragons! - 89%

StillDeath, April 21st, 2004

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!