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I Was Proven Wrong - 82%

Dragonforza, October 8th, 2019

Take one look at my pseudonym here and you'll realise why this is such a big deal. So let me begin telling you how an entity in the past couple of years has left me completely disappointed and alienated. Of course I'm referring to the game franchise Forza Motorsport. Ha, got you again. However, in all seriousness, life as a fan of DragonForce has been quite a rollercoaster especially in the past five years. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has had gripes about the prior two releases. I even went as far as saying that DragonForce's best song in 2017 was their cover of Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You" with popular Youtuber PelleK, completely discarding their "Reaching Into Infinity" album.

Yet I still got sucked in to the singles teased in the run up to this latest release. And out of blind loyalty I followed through with the whole product. I thought I would never get over the irreversible fact that Marc Hudson is there. I really was a misery guts but I wanted to be objective and after all, I am a firm believer of second chances, and third and fourth, etc. But even the most fiercely loyal people know when to give up, like me with Dark Moor. With the decline of *other* bands (to avoid more unnecessary name drops) I was fearful that DragonForce were beginning to go on the same vector. However, I was thankfully proven wrong.

So let's talk about the album which weirdly shares a name one of their old songs. The first couple of songs are interesting and offer something closer to their sound of yesteryear. Compared to the era of its namesake, they're not quite the same but it's not apples to apples. It's plain to hear that it's not quite so overblown and grandiose but a lot tighter, which suits Hudson a lot more and he can really make an impression of his own as opposed to filling Theart's shoes, which is nearly impossible.

Still, there is plenty of room to explore themes and elaborate on the barebones fast tempo and shred guitar solos. "The Last Dragonborn" is directly about Skyrim. By now, DragonForce has built a reputation for their guitar work and often "dueling" solos but it seems a lot more balanced here. The guitars are not neglected at all, mind you, which keeps me and likely many others very happy. But they haven't packed sweep picks and arpeggios from hell into every nook and cranny, instead bringing the bass and keyboard into play,

In the second half the listener will come across one of my picks of the bunch in "Razorblade Meltdown" which has contains Finnish swearing, so a warning for any polite-mouthed natives there. The second half feels a lot closer to home in terms of their roots, the tempo picks up more often. Although the tempo is still not what it used to be ten or more years ago the structure overall leans a lot more that way. They seemed to have injected a lot more fun into the fray, a lot less obligation, and it shows in the fluency of the finished product. I think this suits Hudson more and he's in his element a lot more. They seem to have extracted enough fun to include a CĂ©line Dion cover, and meme artists everywhere rejoice.

Overall I enjoyed this a lot and it's a step in the right direction. They seem to be in a healthier place where they're having fun, they're not scraping the barrel for ideas. So I hope this review among others here help potential listeners on the fence. Give this a listen.