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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.