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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.