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Flawed but Enjoyable - 75%

ghostofthesun, November 2nd, 2008

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.