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Inhuman Rampage - 85%

The Clansman 95, June 14th, 2018

Inhuman Rampage is the third album by English power metallers DragonForce. The album was propelled by succesful single "Through the Fire and Flames", a song included in the popular video game "Guitar Hero III". The album went gold in the UK and in the USA and topped the US Hit charts, becoming the first power metal album to achieve such status in the US..

This album shows an increased keyboard presence compared to its two predecessors (although the soloing is less prominent than in "Sonic Firestorm"), some screamed backing vocals and an even higher level of virtuosities by the guitar duo Herman Li/ Sam Totman, that provides an incredible amount of solos and shredding. The musical style of the album is distingished by aggressive and extremely fast riffs, prominent and outstanding dual guitar harmonies and pressing yet catchy and breathtaking vocals that mantain the pace extremely fast throughout the entire album, with the sole exception of the final ballad "Trail of Broken Hearts". The rhythm section is extremely fast and features typical extreme metal grooves such as the blast beat; the double-bass is a costant for the entire duration of the album. The eight tracks (nine if you own the Special Edition) feature excellent melodies and choruses and incredibly technical (yet somehow definitely self-indulgent) solos, but they can grow a bit repetitive due to the similar structure of most of the songs, many of them including similar formulas, like instrumental bridges that although being really catchy may grow to sound a bit similar to each other the more you listen to the album. Another possible flaw of the CD may be the fact that almost all the tracks pass the 6 minutes mark, and then they can result a bit tiring to listen to if you're not exactly into the band, or even if you're looking for a bit more variety. Furthermore, the bass is almost completely lost in the mix, save a couple lead slaps here and there, and that's a shame considering the technical ability of bassist Adrian Lambert; a wasted occasion to add more variations and original musical solutons to the songs.

The opener "Through the Fire and Flames" (the band's most well-known song) brings the album right into action, closely followed by "Revolution Deathsquad" (one of my favourite tracks, featuring an extremely long solo session) and the furious "Storming the Burning Fields". Three songs make use of the seven strings guitar: "Revolution Deathsquad", "Storming the Burning Fileds" and "The Flame of Youth". ZP's performance is really excellent in each song, but we have to notice the fact that they used a lot of effects to make his voice sound even cooler.

"Inhuman Rampage" is a solid, entertaining and enjoyable album, presenting some minor flaws, mainly amenable to the lack of variation and the self-indulgence of the musicians, often just willing to showcase their insane playing skills; nonetheless, I recommend it to every power metal and speed metal aficionado, being ultimately catchy and memorable when compared to the rest of the power metal world.

A Religious Experience - 32%

tidalforce79, April 30th, 2016

Dragonforce; almost single-handedly, turned me into a Deist. Why? No loving, Christian god would allow two talented guitar players into such a band. No, if God were how the bible described, the twin-axe duo would be in a band like Steel Prophet or Persuader. Even a technical thrash band would benefit from such a neo-classical touch. Trim the length of the solos down by about half, and the players on Inhuman Rampage would enrich a number of bands. It would be pointless to review more than one of Dragonforce’s efforts, because they all sound the same.

So, what about Inhuman Rampage? Basically, the album is a flowery, metallic rendition of a Brady Bunch episode. Sure, the album is produced well enough, but what “power” metal album isn’t? The guitar sound is thin, but crisp. The frantic double bass drumming can be distinguished well in the mix. Slightly layered vocals come through the speakers nice and clean, and the bass sound is decent. Yes, all the recipes for a generic experience are present.

Talent wise, the band delivers well enough-though they couldn’t possibly be any less original. The riffs are precise, though completely lame, like a castrated version of Kiske era Helloween. While the drummer may be uninspired, he delivers the fills with surgical efficiency-like a robot. Dragonforce’s front man can carry a note, but his voice is whiny. Listen to his singing from about two minutes, and you will find yourself trapped in a hellish limbo akin to a toddler’s birthday party, or an Axl Rose speech.

Breaking down the tracks would be an exercise in futility. Basically, all the songs follow the same pattern: speed: catchy, hyper jubilant choruses: tastelessly long solos. Seconds after the album mercifully ends, you will have forgotten every track. In a twisted sense, this might actually make the album a good purchase because it will always be new! All kidding aside, Inhuman Rampage is another assembly line offering, that happens to be worse than most. Compared to Dragonforce, a band like Rhapsody actually sounds pretty heavy. Keeper of the Seven Keys will sound brutal in the sonic wake of Inhuman Rampage.

Is there anything redeeming about the album? Yes. As noted above, the guitar players are quite talented. The neo-classical shredding is awe inspiring, but lacks some effect due to the senseless length of the solos. Likewise, the album occasionally makes me bob my head with the catchy melodies. If you are a sucker for sing-along jingles, Inhuman Rampage might be worth a few dollars. If not, you are instructed to cleanse your ears with Evolution Purgatory or The Goddess Principle-rinse and repeat.

Very good, but very tiring - 80%

gasmask_colostomy, May 12th, 2015

Now, Dragonforce have been put through the mill a bit on the Metal Archives and I have no intention of retreading old ground in this review. There are two camps thus far: the first, who say that Dragonforce are tremendously skilled and inventive musicians taking power metal further than ever before, are marginally in the majority; the second camp think that, since the release of this album, Dragonforce have merely been purveyors of wank-heavy, blast-infested singalongs with no real merit apart from the songs' impressive speed. I don't fall especially into either camp, though I would align my views more closely with the first.

These guys are no doubt skilled at what they do and what they do is for the most part very exciting and gloriously metal. My problem is not the quality of the music on offer, nor do I have a huge gripe with the songwriting, though I'll come to that in a minute. I have a big issue with the length of this album, the length of the songs individually, and also with a lack of diversity, mostly in the drum parts. I have a lot of respect for Hells Unicorn, who reviewed this album when it was still fresh, and I understand his point about music of this complexity needing attention and time to fully process and appreciate the changes going on within the songs. On this point, I absolutely agree with him. However, I just don't have the attention span to listen to 56 minutes of hyper-fast music played in this style, even with the many shifts thrown into each song. There's a reason why all of Children of Bodom's albums clock in at under 40 minutes and that's precisely what this band should have realised when they made something this intense and detailed - it must be about quality over quantity. I would like to listen to a Dragonforce EP very much, yet there's nothing of the sort on offer, so I'm stuck with an unwieldy album like 'Inhuman Rampage'. Also, the individual song lengths. I understand that this is supposed to be epic power metal, but this is completely exhausting and I can't even concentrate through some whole songs, particularly towards the end of the album. We could happily lose one or two verses and about a minute off the instrumental break without the basic integrity of the songs being compromised; then, with songs about four or five minutes long, eight tracks becomes a feasible proposition, possibly even with space left to include one longer number.

Next, my issue with the diversity of the music on here. We have in Sam Totman and Herman Li two fantastically adept guitarists blazing a trail across the entirety of this album. Along with Vadim Pruzhanov on keyboards, they provide the songs with most of their musical direction and detailing, so they should be the main focus. Unfortunately, Dave Mackintosh is also a very good drummer and is capable of keeping up with warp speed at which the leads generally progress. I say unfortunately because this is a very, very bad idea to use as much as Dragonforce do: barring the closing ballad 'Trail of Broken Hearts' (put a slow ballad at the end of a fast album? Really?), every song has blastbeats obscuring a worryingly large percentage of the shredding, the licks, and the hooks in the riffs. It's really annoying, like trying to eat a variety of delicious foods which each must come with a bite of potato. The drums are too strong and the rhythm guitar too similar in pitch to the drums to make much stand out, apart from the solos of course, on which the tone is actually a little too juicy and outstanding. Maybe this is what makes some people say that the songs sound similar, because the solos stand out and the riffs don't really.

There are, however, many good things about this album, they just take less time to explain. The instrumentalists are all great, of course, just sometimes poorly deployed, and the leads on offer really are of the highest calibre. Li is more inventive than Totman, but they contrast each other nicely and some of their duels and stand-alone parts are jaw-dropping. The keyboards actually give the songs greater focus and definition than you might think: the leads are a little like Children of Bodom, while the more modern sounds (negative reception aside) make a big difference and keep the overlong album becoming too tedious. ZP Theart is pretty inspired on here and is actually the only person I can't really criticize, since he usually produces good vocal melodies and belts out chorus after chorus after chorus (all in one song mostly) in a high and winning key.

'Inhuman Rampage' is probably technically the best Dragonforce album, but I don't base my opinions on the skill of the musicians, just on whether I like the music. I do like it, though I can't stand it all at once and there are some things I would change. The pick of the songs are probably the first two and 'Cry for Eternity', though most songs in edited form would be absolutely brilliant. In short, this is the giant who is too stupid to control his own power.

Pop Metal Part 1: catchy, fun, and aggressive - 85%

Jophelerx, May 19th, 2014

While Dragonforce had always been fairly popular in power metal circles, they exploded into prominence all of a sudden when their song "Through the Fire and Flames" was included on the highly popular video game Guitar Hero 3. Suddenly they weren't just popular in power metal circles - they were popular in other metal circles, in rock circles, and in circles of anyone who liked Guitar Hero and wanted to seem cool. This being the case, one day in 2008, my sort of odd history teacher allowed one of my classmates to play a song while we did some classwork; he claimed to have originally intended this policy to go around to entire class eventually, although only two or three other people ever contributed. However, what I heard on this day was something like I'd never heard before; something so glorious that I had to search for more. Yes, it was "Through the Fire and Flames," and yes, I was 14 at the time, as you may have guessed.

While "Through the Fire and Flames" is far from the best metal song in existence, it will always hold a place in my heart, not only because I find it enjoyable, but because it introduced me to the genre I've almost exclusively been listening to since then (for those who are bad at math, that's six years). A friend of mine ripped me a copy of the CD, and I've been spinning it on and off ever since - my first ever (ripped) metal album. That being said, I realize my nostalgia glasses are going to give me a pretty biased view of the album, but I'm still capable of pointing out strengths and flaws, specific things that I like and don't like with valid reason why I like and don't like them, so don't discard this is fanboy ravings quite just yet.

After the band's brilliant debut Valley of the Damned (VotD) and their less brilliant (but still solid) follow-up, Sonic Firestorm (SF), what would logically come next? Perhaps an even further dip in quality? Well, many would say yes, but I disagree - and whatever the opinion, it indisputably took an unexpected direction. Not drastically so, but still, it's there. SF took VotD's frantic riffage, poppy hooks, and serene beauty and took it in a much different direction, emphasizing the former and putting the other two on the back burner. It was darker in places and more aggressive overall, with a grittier performance from vocalist ZP Theart.

On Inhuman Rampage (IR), rather than taking it to even more aggressive and/or darker, does pretty much the opposite. It's like a different progression from VotD; SF is the album that actually came after it, but IR could have been as well. The band scales back the riffage and darkness and aggression even further than it had been on VotD, opting for a very poppy, heartfelt, majestic direction. For those of you who have already heard the record, this may sound a bit strange, considering there's a lot of blisteringly fast solos and leads, and they even introduce some harsh backing vocals in a couple of places, but this is definitely significantly poppier than VotD. The guitars often fall out from under Theart during choruses or various other sections, and there is heavy use of synthesizers and occasionally even vocoders. Additionally, there's even more multi-tracking of vocals than in VotD, especially in sections without a guitar presence ("Storming the Burning Fields," "Cry for Eternity"). The only thing that appears to have become a bit more "metallized" is that there is only one ballad here, rather than two as there were on the two previous records.

Luckily, that ballad is good. VotD and SF both had two ballads, one of which was bad and one of which was good, so it could have gone either way, but this one is excellent, falling just under the monstrous "Dawn Over a New World" from SF. There is also a pretty widespread claim of "sameyness" for DragonForce, meaning that all their songs sound the same. This idea is a pretty preposterous claim to make about the first two DragonForce albums, at least in the capacity that it's been made, but it holds a little truer on IR. I mean, obviously the songs all have distinct verses and choruses, but the guitar solos do tend to run together unless you're intimately familiar with the album - and sometimes even if you are.

However, I could safely place the songs into three categories: songs that are a bit darker and more aggressive ("Storming the Burning Fields," "The Flame of Youth"), ballads ("Trail of Broken Hearts"), and the rest of the album. So yeah, you've got five songs that are quite similar, but they're all awesome, and they're different enough that I still enjoy listening to all of them frequently. Well, except "Body Breakdown," the weakest track here. It's pretty dull overall and I wouldn't bother with it, but the record as a whole is quite enjoyable and is actually more consistent than the previous two albums - the changes here certainly aren't all bad.

This is DragonForce at it's catchiest, most headbangable state, and it's wonderful. It's accessible and poppy as fuck, but sometimes that's what you want to hear. The songs tend to be blisteringly fast, anthemic, and riddled with guitar wankery, and that will more or less tell you about the five songs I mentioned before. Hell, even "Storming the Burning Fields" more or less falls into this category - but the last two tracks are a little different. "The Flame of Youth" is much darker, with an ominous, depressing introduction, and while the riffs are still blisteringly fast, it's got a more filthy, almost introspective feeling to it. Sure, it's DragonForce and their songs aren't going to be incredibly deep, but the themes of escaping eternal torment are pretty poignant here, with dark verses contrasted by a happy prechorus and chorus about what life would be like, but then the end of the chorus brings you back to reality - "In a lifetime searching we must fight through the eternal pain." Again, I'm sure it wasn't intended as anything terribly philosophical, but considering I've battled depression quite a bit in the past, the themes ring very true with me, which is why it's my favorite song on the album.

"Trail of Broken Hearts" is a pretty standard DF power ballad; sappy as hell, but fun if you can stomach how saccharine it is. It seems pretty heartfelt, at least to me - certainly moreso than songs like "Through the Fire and Flames." Overall I think the album is very, very good - and of course I have nostalgia to thank for at least a little of that - but not without its flaws. Sometimes the synths and effects become a little much, and of course hearing solos without a huge amount of variation for sometimes two or three minutes can get a little bit dull, but its strengths far outweigh its weaknesses, and Theart is at the top of his game here, as is the songwriting, for the most part. If you haven't heard this album yet, I strongly urge you not to listen to all the hate and just give it a chance. It's something I've come to love very much, and well worth your time.

A Perfect lesson in Completely losing one's way. - 47%

Satosuke, February 13th, 2012

Valley of the Damned is a rip-roaring, high-flying, absolute beast of a speed/power metal album. Sonic Firestorm soars even higher with a triumphant, fun-yet-towering style and willingness to push the speed envelope even farther while keeping things from getting repetitive.

This album pretty much sacrifices everything at the altar of BPM. Seriously...what the fuck happened!?

The solos are all speed now, rife with repetition, the stench of the shit the still talented guitarists forgot to give about variety. The riffs are boring and forgettable, save for Through the Fire and the Flames and the first 60 seconds of Operation Ground and Pound. The solos and instrument tracks as a whole are reduced to musical masturbation; good players furiously noodling on their axes, keyboards, and drums for an hour while shouting in their minds "HEY LOOK WHAT WE CAN DO!"

Don't even get me started on the unforgivably lazy lyrical work here. You could plug in all the 12 words they used to write this entire album, shuffle them on your computer, and just CTRL-C + CTRL-V your way to another entire album's worth of Dragonforce lyrics. As much as I like Sonic Firestorm, I started to get that feeling they weren't trying as hard, using power metal buzzwords to stretch out the concept in time for release. Now, they've boldfaced stopped trying to hide how monotonous they've become. Yeah their first two albums had pretty cheesy lyrics, but at least there was SOME variety there, and it had really great camp appeal. This is power metal camp at its absolute lowest. Hell, even the song titles are terrible this time around. The first two had kinda cliche yet fun power metal names like Heart of a Dragon or Above the Winter Moonlight. The fun's been banished here, substituted with godawful names like Body Breakdown and Revolution Deathsquad. Sheesh, someone's going emo.

As of this album, It literally feels like Dragonforce is a plane that was previously loaded down by lyrical and melodic variety and actual musical effort, and Inhuman Rampage is them scuttling that cargo to go fast enough to break the sound barrier.

The only good things I can say about this is that the musicianship is still strong, ZP's voice is a classic metalhead's dream, and there really are occasional flashes of brilliance in the dullness. But all this just makes the poor quality of this album even more galling. They could have made another bombshell of an album if they actually tried. Shit, I'd even forgive some repetitiveness if the lyrics were better. But no, this is natural talent mixed with total apathy.

To be honest, I wanted to like this album. I wanted to revel in stupidly fun, ridiculously fast power metal again, but this is just so much style without substance. Stick to the first two albums and avoid this disappointment.

Inhumane rubbish - 30%

naverhtrad, March 15th, 2011

Okay, in principle I’m of two minds or more about Dragonforce. I genuinely appreciate power metal coming from Britain; perhaps because they are relatively scarce, I generally find power metal acts from the UK are often more adventurous than those from the continent (see my reviews for Pythia and Liquid Sky). I’m not going to be a typical detractor and say that everything about them sucks; they’ve obviously got some highly talented musicians on board. Obviously Li Kangmin can handle a guitar. But the major problem with Dragonforce is that they take all of this talent and they use it for pure evil. And I’m not talking the good kind of evil; I’m talking evil evil, like pop punk.

First of all and most obviously, they play the same song over and over. They ride the same predictable progressions at pretty much the same tempo with little variation; they play so fast that the melody is nearly indistinguishable; and they do this for seven or eight minutes at a stretch. (There’s a reason why I have a growing appreciation for thrash, by the way; for the most part, they keep their songs short and punchy!) It is all very technically impressive, very well-produced and well-polished, but after about two or three minutes I glance at the ‘time remaining’ metre on my CD player and think, ‘what the fuck, people? You’re not even halfway done even though you’re just going to be doing the same thing over and over?’ Secondly, I realise they’re deliberately attempting to sound like the soundtrack to an 8-bit Nintendo game from the late 1980’s, but that is NOT a good thing! The music does not allow itself any opportunity to slow down and breathe – with very few exceptions (such as the opening and closing sections of ‘Operation Ground and Pound’). But really, once you’ve listened to ‘Through the Fire and the Flames’ you’ve pretty much listened to probably 90% of what Dragonforce is capable of on Inhuman Rampage.

Thirdly, as a choral vocalist myself, I have to hate on the vocals just a little bit. Alright, maybe more than just a little bit – they are more than deserving of a Lewis Black-style nervous breakdown rant. ZP – come on, man! It’s bad enough that you’re going all-in on the annoying Alvin and the Chipmunks gimmick complete with the tremolo wailing, but then – seriously – you have to go and use fucking pitch correction? Dick move, dude. Auto-Tune is for bands with shit singers like Linkin Park (don’t get me started on ‘New Divide’!) and the kind of bad R&B that plays non-stop on pop-rock radio nowadays. If you can sing, maybe you should try SINGING for a change, damn it! Vocals like this make baby Jesus cry and the almighty Ronnie James Dio spin around in his grave.

Actually, all of the music on this album is over-dubbed, over-synthesised, over-produced; everything that Dragonforce does, seems to be done merely for technical effect, at the expense of anything resembling authentic emotion. And, philosophically speaking, the very last things a metal band should sacrifice are emotion and authenticity. I take it as an accomplishment that I could summon the patience to listen to this album twice through for this review; however, it is not an accomplishment I would recommend any readers of my review to repeat.

6 / 20

My Introduction to Metal - 95%

Vegetarian_Cannibal, July 17th, 2010

DragonForce was the band that started me down the metal path. Some people have various reasons for hating them, but I will always love them. And that's not just because they were the first band I really loved. They consider themselves to be an "extreme power metal" band, and I must say they do seem to push every element of the genre to its limits. And I think the way they do it is cool. The lyrics are extremely cheesy, the guitars are extremely fast, and the choruses are extremely fun and catchy. If you don't like power metal, you probably hate DragonForce even more than most other power metal bands. But if you are a fan of power metal, I think you should ignore what people think of them and check them out.

Some people think that DragonForce's songs all sound the same. I don't think that's true, but I think that this album is the one where the songs sound the most same-ish. That doesn't bother me, though. This is the only album with any harsh vocals on it. I think they add a nice touch to some of the songs. Other than those things, I don't think there's anything in particular that makes this album different than the others. I guess it's kind of like Sonic Firestorm because it sounds pretty generic, but that's fine with me as long as it's still good.

This album kicks off with "Through the Fire and Flames," a song that got popular after its inclusion in Guitar Hero III. This is a great song, and I think it sounds different from the others, but that could be just because I had already heard it so many times before hearing the rest of the album. I'm a little annoyed that this song got so much more famous here in America than any other power metal song in existence, just because of Guitar Hero. But I guess I can't complain, because admittedly that was how I discovered DragonForce, who then helped me discover power metal.

This album is full of great songs. "Revolution Deathsquad" is an awesome song, though really generic. It's just kind of got the catchy verses and chorus of any other song, though with more harsh vocals. I do wish that the guitar solo wasn't so long, though. "Storming the Burning Fields" is really cheesy, but I still love it. After hearing the guitar intro and the "whoa-oa-oahs" in this song, you'll see what I mean. "Operation Ground and Pound" is the second single, and possibly my favorite. It's just got great verses, an amazing chorus, a nice solo, and a really awesome music video. One of my all time favorite music videos, right here. "Body Breakdown" is cool. It's got a lot of different instruments that sound weird but awesome at the same time. The verses are relatively quiet but still fast. I think this is one of the more unique songs on the album. "The Flame of Youth" also has some weird parts in it, and has a really catchy chorus, as always. "Trail of Broken Hearts" is the closer, and this is the only time DragonForce has closed with a ballad. If you ask me, they should do it more often. It's a nice way to close off the album, though admittedly I like "Starfire" and "Dawn Over a New World" more.

"Cry For Eternity" is the one song I'm not that big on. I guess for me it just lacks the speed, intensity, and catchiness of the other songs. It's also a little long, which always makes mediocre songs seem even worse. I'm not saying that this is a bad song. It's just not as good as the others.

I think it's worth it to get the special edition version, or at least just buy the song "Lost Souls in Endless Time" from iTunes. This song is really different, and is one of my favorites. It's got a nice keyboard solo, which you never really hear from DragonForce. The vocals are really high-pitched, and the lyrics are cheesy but hilarious. The chorus us awesome.

That about sums it up. I would recommend this album to any power metal fans, or anyone who likes bands that are out of the ordinary. This band is really easy to get into, even if you don't like metal. I think they'll be just as good without ZP Theart, and I'm excited to hear what they'll sound like with the new singer. I'll never stop loving DragonForce.

These guys have the wrong idea about power metal - 24%

The_Ghoul, April 29th, 2009

If this doesn't annoy the crap out of you, then you either this is the only power metal you've heard, thus all the tired cliche's and misconceptions seem novel to you, or this is the only Dragonforce you've heard, thus all the tired cliche's and misconceptions seem novel to you.

But take it from me, a person who listens to way too much power metal for his own good, that Dragonforce, while they might be the fastest power metal has to offer, are nowhere near the best it has to offer. This is full of misconceptions, and the most prominent one is that the point of power metal is to be as fast as possible. C'mon, guys, that's not even the point of speed metal, and speed metal has "speed" in the name. The second misconception is that speed is the ends, not the means, and that speed should be achieved at any cost. Well, this means they speed up the guitars via the almighty computer and sacrifice anything but the most simple and neanderthal of melodies. Any sort of coherence is lost and buried under the glob of speedy sounds.

I thought I would like this as music for breaking speed limits whilst driving, but sadly enough that's not even the case. It's fast, to be sure, but artificially fast. It's not ennervating because the speed just doesn't sound like it's any sort of achievement, and I just cant pound my fist like I do when I put on Grave Digger or olskool Blind Guardian. There's no passion, no fury, just a random stream of notes akin to television static.

And of course I can't get over how terrible and artificial Zippy Theart's singing is. I would honestly add 20 or so more points to the score if their sister band Power Quest's singer, Alessio Garavallo, was singing. He has passion, he has power, and Zippy has neither. It's the same lines, over and over again, delivered in a generic, nasally, format. It gets old, FAST, and after it got old I found I couldn't stand listening to his voice.

While their schtick was tolerable over their first couple albums because they kept their excesses in check (kind of) and they were still new and novel, by this time they had been reduced to a cliche', writing the same song over and over again and sticking in a token ballad, solely for the purpose, it seems, of being able to claim that they're not 100% about speed. I am finding that every time I write a Dragonforce review, I'm writing the same review, and that's because every time I listen to Dragonforce, I'm listening to the same album, just rearranged and with different titles.

And speaking of titles, Dragonforce have got to have THE stupidest song titles and lyrics. Ever. It even beats out the vacuous satan worship of your average swedish norsecore band. When you listen to the lyrics, as it is with the music, you won't remember a single thing except for the first couple lines. It just doesn't mean a goddamn thing. It's not bad, so much as it's empty. And it seems with every new album, the sound is more compressed, digitally altered, and soulless than before. Metal is supposed to be about passion, not just extremity, and Dragonforce are severely lacking in the passion department.

Fight for the Truth and the Frreedom, GLORIA! - 88%

21stcenturydigitalboy, November 17th, 2008

Inhuman Rampage could almost be described as a really high-pitched black metal album. Constant blast-beats and insane shredding create an immenseness of noise that supersedes any other band their genre over. Dragonforce have received one criticism time and time again: all of their songs sound alike. Do I disagree? no. Do I care? fuck no. I've heard each of the Dragonforce albums well over 100 times and can hum to solos and pick out all the things that make song A different from song B. When it comes right down to it, using the same formula doesn't really matter if you're not hitting the same notes. As biting youtube videos have shown, playing all the Dragonforce songs at the same time does not mean you will hear one song, so if you get past the formulaic thing (as I mostly have) then there's potentially a lot to like.

My biggest gripe on the album is actually a little different (though points were taken off on the repetitiveness regardless) and that is that the album is very difficult to listen to all at once. Unless you are in a situation where you really require insanely high-tempo power metal, this album won't likely stay in rotation as all that background noise is a fast road to a headache. Most of the times that this album has been positive for me are when I was cleaning my house and the music made it automatically fun. It's not really a huge problem for a band to have set situations for listening, though, and the music is always fine in concentrated bursts.

What matters most about Inhuman Rampage is that it is a motherfucking powerhouse. Most of the reason I can not get into traditional power metal bands is because none match up to Dragonforce's sheer.... well, power. The album is constantly moving at 900 miles-per-hour with a nonstop fucking blastbeat and the fastest guitar wankery on the face of the earth. It's pretty easy to accuse the half-song length solos of being derivative and unimaginative because they have a lot of what sounds like 'fuck it hit every note on the fretboard' however truly everything that Dragonforce does, they do in the name of fun. It's like when a bunch of dudes sit around and say 'wouldn't it be fucking awesome if there were just three minutes of fucking insane off-the-wall guitar mastery to headbang to?' and it happened, and it worked. The people who find reasons to hate Dragonforce simply aren't the intended audience. There are metal-heads like myself who just every once in a while want to go absolutely fucking insane to the most head-bangable music in the universe, and Inhuman Rampage fills that niche.

In comparison to the other Dragonforce albums, I'd put Inhuman Rampage on par at the top with Valley of the Damned. The later certainly has more variety in it's songs and better writing, but Inhuman Rampage has the sheer skill, power, and wankery to tie it up for me. Rather than writing fundamentally original songs or throwing in refreshing segments of originality (as done on Valley), Dragonforce opted to take any unique and cool idea they had and toss them in at random times during the solos which, once again, just fucking works if you're the right listener. Personally, I get psyched when I'm in the middle of the most intense solo of all time and suddenly out rips an immense bass breakdown followed by the fucking song from Mario or something. It's quite glorious. The bass and keyboard mostly got turned way the fuck down on this album but both have their moments, and oh are those moments a blast.

Z. P. Theart's vocals are worth mentioning on their own as well. This man has the most uplifting and powerful voice this side of Dio. You bet your ass it sounds a bit cheesy, but every line is delivered with such gusto that it's hard not to love. This adds the 'oomf' to the choruses that make them almost all unforgettable and infinitely singable. The album's lyrics are, admittedly, pretty hilariously unoriginal. I actually counted and the number of times the words 'fire' or 'flames' were used came out to 45. Forty fucking five. And most of the other lyrics are constantly reused as well. This, however, does not make them any less awesome.

Really, one's like or dislike of Dragonforce is based pretty much entirely on themselves, as there is next to no way to objectively view this band (not that I believe in objectivity anyways.) There are a lot of diehard fans and a lot of haters, and neither is about to convince the other that they are wrong. I wouldn't really say Dragonforce is one of my alltime favorites, but I find them hard not to love.

Dragonforce - Inhuman Rampage - 45%

orionmetalhead, September 3rd, 2008

Unlike "Valley of the Damned" which boasted excellent songwriting and a pure power metal foundation, "Inhuman Rampage" has rendered Dragonforce's excellent debut sheer luck. The problem with "Inhuman Rampage" is the myriad and unnecessary studio effects, and gimmicky tricks. Almost every song has a section that makes little if any sense in the grand scheme of the song. For instance, opening track and, thanks to Guitar Hero, every wide eyed guitar-hero fan's favorite song, could have been on par with a song such as Disciples of Babylon yet amidst all the excellent material exists a ton of needless crap. Both the beginning and end of the song are awful - beginning due to what is clearly studio created drum-placement and the end is longer than the closing to the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Revolution Deathsquad, the following song, starts out with what sounds like a spaceship flying overhead and sprinkling fairy dust upon the world. Between each fragment and riff there is a multitude of guitar squeals and frills. Totally neglecting the fact that at two points ZP sounds like Cher, his vocals sound forced and even though he does do a second rate version of Tobias Sammet (Edguy) he doesn't seem to portray an ounce of fun such as he did on the debut album. The elongated solo section almost totally destroys the second half of the song but instead of relying entirely on wankery, they instead opt for the most un-metal of song destroyers - the Cher voice - again. The riff three minutes and change into the song (shortly after the first Cherism) flows awkwardly and showcases nothing but that Li and Totman can write a groove riff.

Storming The Burning Fields and Body Breakdown are totally forgettable. Probably because they are composed of the same terrible Ideas. Body Breakdown does sport some really questionable verse composition with random keyboard effects and singing that would make George Michael stand at attention. I am still concerned whether the guitar noodles that exist in these songs are pure unadulterated "studio dares." I can imagine Totman and Li sitting together in the studio - possibly in each other's laps - and Herman daring Totman to make a noise that sounds like an alien spaceship decorated by the Queer Eye guy flying into space. Also, I don't think that bassist Frédéric Leclercq is giving enough space to play. I would claim he is wasting his obvious talent being hidden behind the obvious guitar duo's need for spotlight.

Mentioning the other songs is really not too necessary. Operation Ground and Pound is long... too long. Although it would have the album's best intro if there were no keyboards, it becomes more of the same when the song starts - long drawn out solos and noodling. And what the hell is that slow, low chug riff with the keyboard solo? Cry For Eternity is also too long. Also, repetitive. A lot of the same melodies and harmonies, just not a lot of stand out moments for me. I continue to feel, throughout this album that the most memorable moments are the moments that are really not even part of the song. The Pac Man noise, the slap bass section... etc. Thats not a good thing. The Flame of Youth is simply the topping on the cake. It sounds like every other song, every other section, constant whammy-pinch harmonic experimentation, more alien saucer espionage. The placement of Trail of Broken Hearts is terrible. It should be in the middle to break up the tracks.

The album is very tiring to the ears. There is little variance in tempos, to much gimmicky effect noises and guitar lead work that in beneficial in no way. I'm left feeling that Dragonforce are now at a point in their career where they want to be known not as a good band but the band that is better than Dream Theater. I rarely say this, but Dream Theater is better. Dragonforce wont ever be better if they keep writing songs with little individuality and too much blatant masturbation.

This is cool - 80%

Noktorn, September 2nd, 2008

There's very little music that I seriously can't handle to listen to for a long time. I can't listen to harsh noise for more than, say, 45 minutes at a time; my ears just can't handle the abuse for that long. One of the other things I can't listen to for a long time is Dragonforce. Listening to 'Inhuman Rampage' is like running a goddamn marathon for me. I have to take a nap after it's over.

Actually, maybe it's more akin to someone sitting you down in front of a massive bowl of delicious candy, saying that you can't get up until you're done eating every piece. It's wonderful for a while, particularly when you're hungry, delighting in each piece's sweet and flavorful fun. After about a third of the way into the bowl, though, you start to not want to eat candy anymore. But it's not really an option, is it? He's not OFFERING you all the candy you can eat, he's making DAMN WELL SURE you eat every piece. So you persist. The unwrapping of each candy becomes more laborious, your tongue becomes sore from the constant sugar's tastebud-bludgeoning hammer, and your stomach swells painfully as you pack more and more candy down your gullet. You keep eating, and it becomes more and more exquisitely painful with every piece. And after a while, you notice that you no longer taste sweetness, but just a hot, salty flavor. Do you know what you're tasting?

It's your tears. Your tears.

Okay, so I can't deny that I love Dragonforce. They are, like candy, delicious and sweet. I don't give a shit that they're uncreative and only have one song, because that one song is fantastic. They're incredibly fast, catchy, and fun to listen to alone or with friends. They're great driving music. They're INCREDIBLY shallow and disposable, but they are perhaps the best trash that metal has ever come up with. Most importantly, it's EXCITING music: it has a constantly driving intensity to it that really forces you to enjoy it. Constant melodic riffs and solos and soaring vocals over a bed of nonstop double bass and blast beats? Yeah, I'm game for that.

The real problem comes when I try to listen to a whole album. It's almost physically painful. I can handle 25 minutes, maybe a half hour of this insanely melodic, hyperspeed power metal before my brain just shuts down. It's just too much. For some reason I can listen to hours of brutal death, grind, or ultra-raw black metal, but for some reason, this little band is somehow too much for me. Maybe it's just the number of notes is too much for my primitive, slam-oriented brain to handle and were it only that Dragonforce had more breakdowns I'd be able to get through a whole album. But as it stands, I'm put into a coma for six months when I listen to the whole thing, which is really quite a terrible thing.

That being said, those first 25 or 30 minutes are pretty divine. Dragonforce is one of those bands which really does make me overtly cheerful and want to play air guitar. The music is pop in metal drag, obviously, but it's stunningly well composed pop that never gets boring or trite. I'd imagine they're a fantastic band live, and that hearing this while surrounded by thousands of other equally nerdy individuals is a lot like visiting Mecca. But it's almost as good all alone in your room and does make you feel like you can jump over a mountain using your cock as a pogo stick. In short, it's heroic and catchy and perhaps some of the best pop music out there today. I love it.

It's the sort of thing where you almost appreciate its shallowness. It's music that will not stand the test of time, but it's not meant to. It's an outburst of flamboyantly cheerful youthful enthusiasm, and while you could criticize it for that very reason, the band really sees that outpouring of feeling as reason enough to make its music. It's decidedly immature and decidedly inartistic, but perhaps the willingness to abandon more erudite values is what makes it so charming. You can find worth in a lot of things, you know. Because the fact is, though it has no value, we all demand a little candy at one point or another.

I've heard better... I've also heard worse - 70%

chuck_phantom, January 25th, 2008

When I first heard the song "Through The Fire and The Flames", it was right before DragonForce quickly blew up around the mainstream, and I thought it was pretty amazing. Now it seems to follow me everywhere I go. And judging from what I've heard from Americans for the past... maybe seven years, it seems like when this album was released was when mainstream listeners woke up and said "Woah! There's another kind of metal besides death metal?" But other than that, I wish people would get over "Through The Fire and Flames" and listen to their previous albums. Or better yet, some other power metal bands.

More about the music, it seems like this album which seems to be the "new definition of metal" was run through a bit of a pop generator, due to the lame use of special effects. I especially think that about the song "Trail of Broken Hearts". And "Operation Ground and Pound" was a great song up until the solo killed it with the way it sounded. The tone of the guitars... during the solos, a lot of it sounds like electronic chirping birds. The pinch harmonics have a bit too much of a high pitch squeal sound (for lack of a better word for it). I think the legato slides on the guitars are pretty over used, and the whammy bar on the lead guitar is used more to make the songs sound weird, rather than good. This albums music doesnt show the emotion that the last two had. And my favorite song from DragonForce (although also greatly played out) is "My Spirit Will Go On", and I think gives a better atmosphere and creates a world in your mind better than most of the songs from this album. DragonForce really ought to focus on creating more emotion rather than insane fastness all the time. That goes for the guitar and drums as well.

ZP Theart sounded good in the album, like he always does. He has a great voice. Not the best though. And I'm wondering why when they go on stage, the songs are tuned down and he sounds pretty crappy when he sounds great on the disk. I don't have much to say about the other members... although Sam Totman should be more noted for being in Power Quest. As a band, they are better than DragonForce.

The hate surrounding this is ridiculous - 70%

Empyreal, May 23rd, 2007

DragonForce have this horrid reputation in power metal circles everywhere. If their bastardization of the styles of music played by Helloween and Gamma Ray isn't enough, the fact that they appear on issues of Guitar Hero with fake blood and silver chains should be enough for most people to stop taking them seriously. They have huge egos, speed up their guitar playing with computers, and add rather annoying special effects to their music much more than any serious metal band should. Not to mention the fact that their lyrics really don't make any sense at all, being simple mindless fantasy drivel. Cliche power metal at it's most offensive.

I previously jumped on the bandwagon of bashing them for being too repetitive, wanky, computerized, et cetera, and I think that was a mistake. So here's my big mea culpa. Did I ever really listen to these songs? At their conception, DragonForce played a lighter and happier style of music, with anthemic, sugary sweet melodies and clear, powerful vocals. On this album, there are way more video-game sounds to be found, and ZP Theart's vocals have matured a lot, although they're bogged down with computer effects. The songs are about 10x faster and heavier, not to mention 10x cheesier as well. The production is loud, in your face, and crystal clear. DragonForce are truly one of the most hideously over the top bands in the power metal scene, if not the number one contender in that area, and it's a love-hate situation. Power metal fans tend to shit on DragonForce for the fact that they're so cheesy and repetitive, but what is there to hate about this band? Why are you even listening to power metal if you can't stomach a bit (okay, a lot) of cheese and over-the-top antics like this band does? This band might be more guilty of repeating themselves and having their songs sound alike, but we can't pretend that bands like Dream Evil, Helloween, or Stratovarius are the picture of artistic innovation and integrity, either.

Perhaps it's the commercial fame and praise that DragonForce have received over the last few years, misrepresenting all power metal as this type of music. But let's face it, power metal is primarily a happy, cheesy, and fun genre of music in this new day and age. There will always be outliers like Tad Morose or Rage or whatever other names you want to throw out there, but DragonForce are actually a good, yet somewhat hyperactive, representation of what the genre is like, for beginners. They have big, singalong choruses, bombastic solos, and speedy, enjoyable songs overall, and that sums up a lot of power metal bands (name one big-name power metal band that really differs from that formula). You can disagree all you want, but DragonForce are a great gateway band to the genre. Plus, without bands like this to introduce people to the genre, how would people find out about the more underground and more innovative power metal bands hiding about? My point is, don't mess with success.

Inhuman Rampage is an expansion on the generic power metal sound we've all heard so many times before, in the sense that it's taken to whole new extremes. The song structures are typical DragonForce, only the songs here are faster, more over the top, cheesier, and more...powerful...than the band has ever been. They sound like Helloween and Gamma Ray, yet they don't really sound like anybody this time around, due to the new heights they've reached. They're so enthusiastic about what they're doing that you can't help but enjoy it even a little bit. This album makes their previous efforts sound like doom metal, and headbanging to it is nearly impossible with how fast it blazes by you. Going over individual songs is pointless, as most of them are pretty samey and sound alike. I have to single out the first two tracks as my favorites. The ballad, "Trail of Broken Hearts" is the best ballad the band has done to date, considering that the band never wrote great ballads, and it starts off with a very cool "underwater" computer effect that fits the song perfectly. "Revolution Deathsquad" is aggressive and shows that the band can put some muscle in it when they want to, as well. I can't really say too much about anything else, as the songs are all equally good, fast, catchy, and bombastic.

I still find flaws here, and they're the same flaws I pointed out in my original, biased review. This band just doesn't seem to want to write songs that sound different from eachother, or can't. It's like you're listening to the same song over and over. And not a lot of them really stick with me after the album's done, either, not like "Evening Star", "Disciples of Babylon", or "Fury of the Storm" did. ZP Theart's voice is too computerized, and I think he'd sound much better if they stopped layering his voice with digital effects. It sounds too artificial at some parts on the disc. And people really need to get over themselves about those guitar solos, too, because there are certainly many bands with better solos than DragonForce put out. This band isn't progressive, nor are their solos worth getting too excited over.

So, this is a fun disc that's very underrated by power metal fans. DragonForce may never be the most intelligent or artistic band around, but I'm glad they're leading the power metal scene these days. We can criticize DragonForce for being too repetitive and unoriginal in their sound, but at least they haven't gone mallcore. At least they didn't become pretentious or artistic, and try to be philosophical. At least they didn't become flowery and wussified like several bands seem to be doing these days. They're sticking to their sound, and I don't mind that. It's not going to win them any new fans, but it's not alienating old ones. Recommended.

Badly underrated band, it seems - 91%

Cheeses_Priced, May 12th, 2007

Though they have a bit of a ways to go yet, DRAGONFORCE are on their way to becoming perhaps the perfect metal band. Consider this album’s merits:

1) Speed
2) Fast guitar solos
3) Soaring vocals that aren’t shrill and annoying and effeminate
4) Fast blast beats
5) Catchy Choruses
6) Fastness
7) Dragon-related
8) Good production
9) Keyboards

And really, what else do you need, in metal or music in general? I haven’t been following DRAGONFORCE’s career all that closely but I heard “Valley of the Damned” a long ways back and I can definitely see that they’ve become faster, catchier, speedier, and more good-production-having over years. This is no small feat, to be sure, for they were already far superior to nearly all other metal in every one of the abovementioned aspects.

Sure: if you pull a random power metal band out of the crowd, I’m not going to tell you that they’re not fast or catchy or that they lack in happy choruses. That would make a liar of me. All I’m trying to say is that DRAGONFORCE are even faster and happier, and that they have more electronic-type sounds in their music, and more blast beats. That is a fact. You may have your own personal preferences, but from a purely objective critical standpoint, DRAGONFORCE better their peers in all measurable aspects. The reader would do well to realize this, for to claim otherwise is simply to mark one’s self as possessing limited faculties of musical appreciation.

Note DRAGONFORCE’s singularly impressive songwriting style. They do not make the listener wait through endless boring intros and the like, before getting to the solos and fast riffs and blast beats and all the other good parts. Inhuman Rampage is nothing but good parts – no anticipation, no building up followed by release, just forty-five minutes of endorphins injected straight into the eyeballs. There is scarcely a second of running time on this album not occupied by fast riffing, fast solos, fast choruses, or fast electronic sounds. Compared to this, the Transformers: The Movie soundtrack resembles grunge.

The only exception is the last song, which is a slow, emotional one. It would suck if it was in the middle of the album but it’s okay as the final track, because it’s like you’ve beaten the game and now you’re just going to relax and watch the end credits. You can almost picture something like “S* RATING – YOU HAVE UNLOCKED SURVIVAL MODE!” popping up as the song closes out.

It’s tough being number one, though. DRAGONFORCE have been subject to some degree of criticism. It seems that now that they’ve started to become popular and gotten signed to a big label, they’re considered “untr00” by elitist power metal fans. Well, if you’re as open-minded as I am and more concerned with good music than with being “tr00” I’m sure that you’ll enjoy this album. I mean, why wouldn’t you?

Oh, the controversy! - 89%

Savi, May 6th, 2007

This album is anthemic, extremely fast (as is expected from Dragonforce), and will fill your ears with plenty of uplifting sounds that will pump you up and make you want to go on an inhuman rampage of your own. It's obvious that I really like this album, so what I'll do for this review is pick apart the little things that I wasn't so happy with. This review is going to sound pretty negative, but only because I'm being picky. I have to be picky because it's Dragonforce, a band that is next to flawless. So if I reviewed them like I would any other band, I would be forced to go on and on about the truck loads of ass they kick, and the review would be boring. So instead of ranting and raving about how much I love them, I'll just discuss the more debated aspects of the album and some of the things that set it apart from their previous releases.

This album has a flawless production, but some of the techno-sounding keyboards and off-the-wall (and often needless) guitar sound effects take away from the epicness of it all. But on the bright side, at least it's probably the most intricate power metal album of all time. I think they made Rampage the way they did because they were tired of power metal albums all sounding the same, and using the same traditional power chords in every verse without much alteration. So they wanted to throw a bunch of curve balls at us with Rampage by adding so many elements that the other albums didn't have. So in a way, that's a beautiful thing. But I just think they didn't quite go about it the way I would have if I were them. Instead of adding a bunch of really weird guitar sounds and making the keyboards sound like something out of a techno song, they should have made it sound more like power metal, but just more complex. They did add some more thrash-like riffs in the verses to eliminate the monotony of the typical power metal riffing style, so that's good. But they kind of went a little overboard with the added sound effects, as I mentioned. Plus, their solos sound like they've been heavily polished in the studio. In other words, this album doesn't seem as raw as the last. It's been touched up similar to the way you would make an ugly person look good with Photoshop. I'm not saying they're horrible guitarists, but I wish they wouldn't tweek the sound too much in the studio. They should do it the old fashioned way, by playing the notes perfectly so that enhancing the sound isn't necessary. The album sounds almost too clean.

I just don't think it was really that necessary to try and make Rampage even more wild and crazy than the other albums. Especially since the other Dragonforce albums were a lot wilder than any other power metal albums to begin with. Dragonforce was already the fastest and most intense power metal band in the world right when they came out. They didn't need to take it one step further, since they were already ahead of the pack in the first place. But they decided to do it anyway, and that's where Inuman Rampage came in. Next time, I hope they just stick to the basics and play traditional power metal, but with a moderate increase in speed and aggressiveness, as they've done in their first two albums. They don't need to add any other elements to their music, just as long as they keep it fast and epic.

Most of the features of this album that I criticized don't really take much away from the whole. It's still a great album with tons of speed, intricacy, melody, and intensity. I'm just reviewing it in the wake of the two legendary albums before it, which forces me to make a much bigger deal about the few and minor negative aspects. By any other band's standards, this album would be a gem. By Dragonforce's standards, it's not bad. I reviewed this album with a keen sense of the band's high standards in songwriting and production value in years past, which is why the review for this album seemed a bit negative. But honestly, the album killed.

They're not sellouts. They're not being suckered into new ideas by their new label Roadrunner. Their minds haven't been warped by the dark side of the industry. They wrote most of the music for Inhuman Rampage while on tour for Sonic Firestorm anyway, before they became huge. Then it was released on Scarecrow Records before they even switched labels. This is the music they want to play. This is what they enjoy playing. Maybe they enjoy it too much, because they constantly get drunk on stage and fuck up the songs from time to time. But I'm not here to review their live shows. The point is, Dragonforce crushes poseurs and trend whores with the ferocity of a thousand boulders rushing down the side of an ice veiled mountain into the abominable tundra of the frozen wastelands below. In other words, the only thing to fear is fear itself. But fear itself fears Dragonforce.

Flashy Bollocks - 35%

Vlachos, March 25th, 2007

This band is just too talented for its own good. DragonForce aren’t unlikable despite their talent, but because of it. Ideally, good music consists of the input of ideas and songwriting to form the basis of an album, and the talent of musicians and tunefulness thereof to reflect the songwriting. Even sub par musicians can get away with being mediocre as long as the heart and soul of their music, the lyrics and writing, are sufficient.

I’m sure you agree with that bullshit, anyway. Nobody in their right mind would claim that Band X is their favourite had they not even released any EPs, albums or even demos, based solely on the band members’ own merits.

Enter DragonForce. They play fast; they have lots of flashy solos in their songs; they play fast… wait, have I already mentioned that? Well, that’s as far as it goes with DragonForce. These are the only attributes which could be construed as pros by a DF fan, unless your idea of a good band is one in which some faggot rhymes fire and desire in every song. Speaking of which, the vocalist could very well be the guy that sung the Pokemon theme song.

And that’s all this band is, really. They’re fast and flashy, with very little substance. One of the common complaints about this album and band in general is that every song, one after the other, sounds the same. In one respect, I disagree with this sentiment; the songs differentiate quite a bit on this album, admittedly while keeping the flow of lyrical and musical themes throughout. And besides, other bands such as Motörhead sound virtually the same in every other song; it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. On the other hand (this pertains to their lack of differentiation in song writing) the ideals behind all the flashy bullshit are practically identical. If you’ve heard one DragonForce song, you’ve heard them all. Not because every song is fast, flashy and has a lot of blistering solos, but because they’ve all culminated from the fact that all the band writes about is about pixies and elves, or whatever they’re singing about. As far as the actual music goes, it’s full of a mish mash of half baked ideas and themes that don’t really go anywhere.

Listen to Through the Fire and Flames. It’s not a bad song. It really isn’t (despite the opening twenty seconds, which sounds like a cross between a game of Dungeons & Dragons and Yu Gi Oh. No, really, it sounds like that. That’s a lot of gay in just twenty seconds). The riffs are cacophonous and are enjoyable if you don’t mind the overwhelming levels of floweriness. If you feel much more fondly about this than I do, you could argue that DF have taken songs like ‘Caught Somewhere in Time’ and have taken them to their extreme, musically. But it all comes back to the fact that unless all you care about is ‘musical masturbation’, DragonForce haven’t done anything to expand the Power Metal genre. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the first track from this album is bad, but after the second or third track you’ll realize that beneath all the solos, riffs and tasteless overuse of keyboards and vocal effects, nothing has changed since. Besides, it could only go down from there since Through the Fire and Flames is the best, if not one of the better tracks on Inhuman Rampage.

This is a recommendation to avoid unless you like flowery Power Metal and don’t mind listening to flashy guitar wankery without any substance. In fact, that’s why it gets any points at all: because what it aims to do something in particular, and does it pretty well. But if you’re like me, do you really give a shit about that?

Inhuman Suck - 8%

NoSoup4you, January 16th, 2007

Sigh, where to begin... I'm sure by now everyone knows who Dragonforce are, and has heard the usual complaints about them. They solo for ten minutes, they have one song, etc etc. Well that's actually not the problem, because if it was good I wouldn't mind! The repetition is incredibly obvious if you listen to a whole album of it, but many other power metal bands pull it off enjoyably anyway. No, the ultimate reason I can't stand Dragonforce is not the formulaic writing, the cliches or the utterly-meaningless-horrible-cheesy-lyrics.

It's because the solos SUCK, plain and simple. They are not fast, they are not creative, they are not technical, and people need to wake the fuck up and stop worshipping them. Certainly the band members have some degree of talent, but it's been completely blown out of proportion. They rarely even go above sixteenth notes, which is decent at those tempos, but seriously. There's been better. What really ruins it is that their phrasing has been identical, in every solo, since the first album. Gee, there's some sixteenths over the verse beat, gee, now the standard double bass comes in for a couple measures and they harmonize. Hey, he just did a squeaky effect. Well that's just dandy. Can we get back to the song yet?

What keeps the album from a 0 is that there is occasionally something worth hearing. The intro to Through the Fire and Flames, the first minute of The Flame of Youth, the occasional short Dragonforce breakdown... well maybe that's it. It always degrades into mind-numbingly predictable crap soon after. The only song this band has ever done that was truly awesome, was Soldiers of the Wasteland. There is no Soldiers of the Wasteland on this CD. If you want mindless shredding that's at least played well, listen to Yngwie Malmsteen. Hell, his songs are even more creative.

They say less is more, but in Dragonforce's case none might be better.

Nothing short of amazing. - 98%

hells_unicorn, September 29th, 2006
Written based on this version: 2006, CD, Noise Records

This album has not been as well recieved as the two previous ones because of either the changes, or the lack there of. The important thing to note here is that the common complaint among various listeners whom argue that the same song is played over and over 7 times are putting forth an arguement that doesn't hold up. My first task as a former university student of music and a guitar player is to debunk this rather ridiculous assertion, then to address the changes that occured.

Each one of these songs (save "Trail of Broken Hearts" and "Storming the Burning Fields) clock in at over 6 minutes, and are all loaded with many changes. In such a situation, it requires at least 4 or 5 listens to fully analyze the subtle differences between the tracks. I don't care how much classical music or metal you listen to, your tonal memory can't comprehend all this music completely after only one or two listens, even Mozart would have to hit the rewind button a bunch of times to make sure he fully understood all that was played.

Minus the obligatory ballad, all of these songs are extremely fast, and loaded with many lead fill-ins. Herman Li's soloing is reminiscent of Steve Vai, especially the effects he uses, which at times can make his leads sound like video game music. Sam Totman's solos are highly similar to a bunch of older axemen such as Dave Murray and KK Downing. The drumming is loaded with blast beats, as is the case with most power metal bands. To the ears of someone who is not familiar with the genre and who can't follow all the notes being jammed into short time spans, it's quite natural that alot of the songs sound similar, however, this is due to a lack of comprehension in the listener, not in any lack of variety in the band's music itself.

Vadim Pruzhanov's compositional efforts have increased dramatically on this release. The result, contrary to the opinion of the novice ear, is a more tonally rich set of songs that still possess the catchy and hook filled choruses that make Dragonforce's music so familiar. Furthermore, the level of keyboard presence has further increased, to the point of opening these guys up to the derogatory "Flower-metal" label, one which I personally find idiotic as it is usually leveled towards Power Metal bands with some Prog. influences. Of his work on here, "Body Breakdown" is my personal favorite, due to the dramatic devices at work in the intro as well as the keyboard solo section. This song also possesses one of the most memorable choruses in the Dragonforce catalog, save perhaps "Fields of Despair" off the Sonic Firestorm release.

Sam Totman is still cranking out more classic tracks that will probably hog up most radio play, should this album be so fortunate as to gain widespread play on the airwaves. "Through the Fire and the Flames" has some highly intricant classical guitar lines at the beginning, and musically is a bit similar to "My spirit will go on" off the last studio effort". "Operation Ground and Pound" is another highly catchy track with tons of speed. But Totman's finest musical moment (8 plus to be exact) is "Cry for Eternity", definite fodder for fans of high speed power metal with amazing guitar work.

Herman Li's lone compositional effort on this release is "The Flame of Youth", which sounds a bit similar to Totman's song writing style, but actually has a highly melodic set of lead tracks in it. All in all good song, but it has a hard time separating itself from the mass of Totman toons that just blaze up a storm.

Now to the other bunch of detractors that this album has, the ones who decry the changes made. This complaint is not as widespread, but needs to be addressed as it is in direct contradiction to the first bunch dealt with earlier. As can be observed on "Revolution Deathsquad" and a few other tracks, Dragonforce has incorporated some harsher, black metal vocals into their sound mix. It is utilized sparingly, but it does give a radically more dramatic feel to the album, and obviously a darker one. One could make an arguement that this style of singing clashes with the light lyrics that Dragonforce is still using, but their songs have always been about a struggle between good and evil, and without the evil there is no conflict, hense the album would have no point lyrically.

There is also obviously a further development to the keyboard's role in the music, and this is not always well recieved by the metal faithful. All I can say to this is, if we can't tolerate innovation in our music, we wither and die. There is nothing affeminate about keyboards, most of the best classical pianists in history have been men. Grow up, get a life, and either put up with it or stop listening to it.

On a final note, the ballad on this album is the best one they've done so far. It contains the highly energetic and fluid synth lead style that Vadim first introduced on "Above the Winter Moonlight", as well as some much needed contrast sections that keep it from being boring. ZP Theart gives a great vocal performance here, actually one of the best he's ever given. This is geared towards people who like melody and complexity. If neither one of these fit into one's definition of good music, steer clear of this album. I for one plan to go on another road trip and listen to it again, and I am proud to say that it is now my favorite Dragonforce album. I anxiously await their next release.

Talent, but that's about it. - 50%

MutatisMutandis, August 20th, 2006

If there's one thing I've noticed throughout my Dragonforce excursions, it's that no matter how much of an impact the album leaves on me at first, I never have the urge to revisit any track in particular, let alone the whole album. I never really understood where these feelings came from, though, as I always felt that valiant explosion of textured melody would warrant tons of extra sessions... With the mid point of 2006 upon me, though, I think I can finally take a stab at what permeates so pungently.

It's fortunate that the same same statement cannot be said for this year's offering, but unfortunately, that doesn't imply anything positive. As soon as the music began pumping into my ears, I immediately knew what I was in for - nostalgia, and bucketloads of it. For the first time, I was not impressed by a Dragonforce album, even at first sampling. To be fair, this album is a little bit better than their sophomore effort, Sonic Firestorm... sadly, that doesn't amount to anything, as the songs are all almost exactly the same in structure and delivery as the aforementioned release." Steve, you're not making any sense, you rank pile of blistering scuzz", you might be proclaiming aloud right about now.
My response: This album is a little catchier and doesn't grate on my nerves as much as Sonic Firestorm. Really, that's the only reason I called it better, so can it, you worthless cunt.

It's not really their lack of progression that bothers me, as if you look back, their are tons of bands that retained their base stylings throughout the years and rarely get bashed for it. Motorhead and Bolt Thrower come to mind, for example.
The one thing that bothers me (and makes these guys gradually become unlistenable) is the fact that every single track is incredibly similar to the last.
A typical Dragonforce song tends to be built somewhat like this:
1.) Fluttery keyboard intro
2.) Solid blasting riff with hints of wankery
3.) Verse
4.) Bridge
5.) Sub-chorus
6.) Exploding, nosebleed-inducingly shrill and melodic super chorus
7.) Refrain steps 3-6, alternate accordingly (ie sprinkle on some more keys)
8.) Sometimes completely forgettable, enormous two to three minute plus block of shredding and keyboard noodling
9.) Repeat sub-chorus
10.) Repeat exploding, nosebleed-inducingly shrill and melodic super chorus
It's very rare that they tread even an inch away from this pattern, and when they do, it usually turns out as lacking. The less generic DF song is usually gratifying at the end, but lacks any 'oomph' midway. It's sad when a more adventuresome song has me yearning for something more obvious.

It confuses me greatly to hear people call these guys prodegies of the genre, groundbreaking, and that they've "thrown down the gauntlet" for the entire Power Metal community to challenge. Dragonforce are doing nothing to that extent. They're doing what the Japanese do to American concepts; they're making it faster, more efficient, and much more polished. These guys are insane musicians. Definately some of the most talented I've come across in terms of shred and power, and they definately aren't humble about it, as they demonstrate in explosions of ridiculous speed and the already stated 2-3 minute blocks of sheer instrumental masturbation.

With that said, I return to the point. They may be incredible at what they do, but their music ends up being like a vintage globe. The beautiful, handcrafted surface represents the technical aspects (ie talent), but the inside is almost completely hollow, and would be nothing without the visual aid. I'm not saying Dragonforce write totally substanceless music, as their opening few numbers are usually really damn good, but really, because this is only the third piece in their discography, and they're already out of fresh ideas, I think it's safe to say we won't be getting to "groundbreaking" anytime soon.

To sum it up, if you've heard these guys last two efforts and loved them, this album won't change your mind in the slightest. It's admittedly decent, but I get bored watching reruns very easily. The standout tracks... nah, figure it out yourself. I'm out.

Inhuman Rampage - 77%

immortalshadow666, May 29th, 2006

The new Dragonforce CD heralds very little change for the British power metal behemoths.

The lack of progression from the previous CD, 2004's "Sonic Firestorm", is a worry even for somebody like me that traditionally doesn't have a problem with clichés or lack of progression (to a degree, mind you). The lyrics are recycled - the opening tracks of both "Sonic Firestorm" as well as "Inhuman Rampage"

But musically, this gets a 98% rating from me - absolutely flawless musicianship. Every member of this band is extremely talented, and extremely good at their respective instruments. Herman Li is just ineffable on guitar. Never has shred wankery ever sounded so appealing, and possibly never again WILL it sound so appealing. The keyboards are used very well - power metal has a filthy habit of having good music being spoiled by highly annoying keyboards. This is not the case for Inhuman Rampage: Vadim definitely knows his stuff. Again, there are very occasional blastbeats scattered throughout the music, and they are not overdone or overused, but it makes a nice change from the usual fast rock beats that accompany this style of music. Again the musician in question is very highly skilled - his drum fills are amazingly quick, but are not used at any point to a degree too long to become noticable in a bad way.

This release will only be likely to disappoint the elitists. If you are a hater of power metal, this will do nothing to change your opinion of the genre, and if you're a Dragonforce or power metal fan in general to any degree, this will not disappoint you, and will more than likely satisfy your thirst for metal with excellent clean singing and lots of nice melodies.

More new ideas and experimentation on the next album please, Dragonforce. This is a "safe" release that's absolutely great for some cheesy headbanging and air guitaring fun, but you wouldn't want too many more releases by the 'Force to sound identical to "Inhuman Rampage". Like as in, the next one or two future releases.

Dragons and blastbeats and guitar duals, oh my! - 68%

Creeping_Steff, April 8th, 2006

Over the past few years Dragonforce have been steadily increasing in popularity, becoming in many metallers’ eyes this decade’s Helloween. The band’s third release – “Imhuman Rampage” - is the most eagerly anticipated metal album of 2006.

It is…phew. It is fast. Very, very fast. Dragonforce play metal like the Gilmore Girls talk. The band themselves describe their music as “extreme power metal”. Indeed, the genre seems to have been created by Dragonforce.

“Inhuman Rampage” shows only slight progression from their previous efforts. All the signature Dragonforce elements are there: the guitar duals between Li and Totman, the blastbeats, the somewhat cheesy fantasy-themed lyrics, the overall epic atmosphere, and the insane riffs. The band has also experimented with the keyboard sound on this release, bringing Pruzhanov’s keys more into the foreground to compete with the dualing guitarists.

‘Through the fire and Flames’ is the perfect opener for this album. The riffs are as catchy as the bubonic plague, and the solos are pure bedlam. ‘Revolution Deathsquad’ is my favourite song from the album, I just adore the riff, and Threat’s signature vocals have a very faint BlackMetal rasp. It will be interesting to see if the band develops this further on future releases. ‘Storming the Burning fields’ has some really awesome blastbeats. ‘Cry For Eternity’ may sound on paper like the next Death Cab for Cutie hit, but has the most furious solos on the album. Here, the keyboard is treated as another guitar. ‘Trial by Hearts’ is an interesting end to the album. Dragonforce here show they can pull of a decent, if not generic, metal ballad. The rest of the songs are rather generic.

This album is far from perfect. It’s nice to see the band taking advantage of better production, but they just go overboard at times. The over-prominence of the keyboards just swamps the music in a polyphonic-ringtone kinda tinniness. And no, Dragonforce still cannot write choruses worthy of Helloween/Blind Guardian fame. The solos, while technically brilliant, are repetitive. Several songs reek of mustabation – the art of wanking via ones instrument. The intensity and repetitivness of this album is actually irritationg.

So, Dragonforce…Over-hyped, irritating, extreme-power-metal wankery? Or epic, maniacal, musical virtuosity? It’s a case of a little from column A, little from column B. Basically, this is a really decent album from a fun, technically brilliant band. However, there was an opportunity here for a band to something really interesting with power-metal and blastbeats, but they haven’t quite pulled it off. “Inhuman Rampage” blends together into a full-on power-metal assault. This level of manic noise works for bands like Morbid Angel and the like, but it doesn’t really do Dragonforce any favours.

"What does this button do?" - 68%

sir_neutral, February 18th, 2006

I only really tend to write when there's something I feel quite strongly about. Sadly, the new Dragonforce album, Inhuman Rampage is one of these unfortunate things.

So what's good about it? Not a great deal. Okay, so if you like to hear some really technically able rock musicians give it their all turning up to 11, then maybe this album is for you. Sam and Herman are an easily identifiable duo and their guitar trade-offs borders on fretboard bedlam at most points where they get to shine in the album (and believe me, there's a lot of them). The other musicians are also all quite clearly capable and Vadim plays a much more prominent role this time around, whereas on Sonic Firestorm and much more so on Valley of the Damned he occupied the much more traditional power metal role of the keyboard as a "support instrument", giving most parts of a song a fuller sound and occasionally chirping in during solo breaks to display the kind of synth wizardry made popular by Van Halen in the early-80s. On Inhuman Rampage, however, the transformation for Vadim's instrument into a much more irritating version of a guitar with buttons you press down is fully complete. ZP puts out a typically standard Dragonforce performance which fans have come to expect although occasionally one is able to hear an underlaying track of decidely black metal-esque vocals, which is something not often heard in power metal. The problem with these parts is that they just don't sound very good, in fact they sound messy as if they were just thrown together as a drunken idea whilst recording the final parts of the album without any real care to what it sounded like at all. With Inhuman Rampage it sounds like Dragonforce have got themselves overly excited about the recording software and concerned themselves more with this than the actual songwriting process itself.

But the focal point of Dragonforce is quite clearly Herman Li and Sam Totman's guitar duo. These are two quite clearly talented and able guitarists, anyone can hear it just listening to one of the songs on this album. The problem is, there's no variation, clearly Herman and Sam are capable of this, but whilst the solos are technically impressive, there's nothing there that I can take with me to remember, that is, they all sound exactly the same and the trebley, glittery sort of sound that Herman and Sam have achieved is overused to the point where it gets quite annoying. The same guitar "tricks" which most of the greats use sparingly are slapped wherever Dragonforce gets the chance, and most often, when they don't. I really liked it in The Glass Prison by Dream Theater where during the solo break, Petrucci would make it sound like his amp was crackling up and the fact that it was the only time I'd heard it in a Dream Theater song (and up until Inhuman Rampage, any other song, forgive my ignorance) made the song itself memorable and unique and I wanted to listen to it again. But hearing the same effect on each individual song on Dragonforce's latest effort just makes me want to turn the album off due to repetiveness than rewind to that special moment again.

I'm not quite sure why Dragonforce's producer wanted the album to sound like a noisy, covoluted mess, perhaps they were being post modern, but I'd rather go with incompetence because the two really go hand in hand. The keyboards sound absolutely ridiculous and casio-ish for the most part and the other instruments are hopelessly lost and drowned out by each other.

So really, Dragonforce haven't made any progression on this album and it remains yet to be seen whether they ever will, I will admit at the end of this review that I am not a fan of power metal, but I believe that I give credit where credit is due. Dragonforce, it would seem, care more about the alcohol and blowjobs than they do about the real sound of their music, which is ironically what got their %@$%s wet in the first place.

Summary: Sloppy, messy sound combined with over-experimental (the synthesised vocals didn't sound good the first time and neither does it now) power metal claptrap does not a good album make. If Dragonforce really wanted to make a big impact on the power metal scene as much as they want to make a large, messy impact inside one of their many groupies then perhaps they should try writing a song about something instead of mashing some random power metal clichés together and hoping it will work. The same can be said for the musical content too. All in all, Inhuman Rampage is the musical equivalent of a cheap fantasy b-movie that arrives straight to video or gets played on public access at 1 'o' clock in the morning.

Better production can do miracles. - 90%

Tale_of_the_Hellship, January 22nd, 2006

Dragonforce kick back in 2006 with yet another album of their unique brand of power metal. Now, although many metalheads accuse Dragonforce of little to no progression between albums, and tend to say this is just more of the same, I'm strongly tempted to disagree. These brand-new eight tracks from the British power metal outfit are once more packed with powerful, insanely fast riffage - indeed, faster than ever: I wonder if they will still make it live -, bombastic choruses, blastbeats (yes, a power metal band with blastbeats), an overall epic atmosphere, and all the Dragonforce trademark features.

Still, although the spirit is the same, some changes must be pointed out. First of all, the keyboard is given way more attention, with some electronic effects added here and there that give the album a proggy edge... well... kind of. This sound cool in some parts (like in the opening song "Through the Fire and the Flames"), but can get annoying at certain times. For now, it's ok, as long as they don't decide to increase the electronic sounds in the following albums. The songs are more well structured and varied, instead of the straightforward sonic onslaught from their previous works, wich sounded very neat when listened for the first time but could get boring after a while. And the weirdest thing: I swear I heard some harsh vocals in one or two songs - I'm sure there are some in "Revolution Deathsquad". They are waaaay too diluted in the mix to make any substancial difference, but it could be a sign of an interesting change for this band.

And then, the factor which makes this album a hughe improvement over the last two: the production. It's a really tight, powerful production, handing power and heaviness to Dragonforce's music, and let's face it: they sure laked a little of both on Valley of the Damned and Sonic Firestorm. The solos also benefit from this, tending to a more organic and less "computerized" sound - showcasing the awesome abilites of axemen Herman and Sam.

Overall, not much has changed here, but the few changes are admirable, and make this album the best Dragonforce effort to date. You can sense the incredible dedication the guys have to their music, and how they try to improve without changing their core sound from album to album.

Stand-out tracks: "Through the Fire and the Flames", "Operation Ground and Pound", "Cry for Eternity".
Not so good tracks: The closer ballad, "Trail of Broken Hearts", is not bad, but it seem a bit out of place here.