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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.