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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.