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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.