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"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 clich├ęs 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.