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Despite some changes, it’s still Dragonforce - 85%

TrooperOfSteel, April 10th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2012, CD, Roadrunner Records

Dragonforce, the band some metal fans love to hate (another case of tall poppy syndrome, people), have been burning on all cylinders since exploding into stardom from their second album entitled ‘Sonic Firestorm’. Gathering speed and grabbing a legion of fans along the way through the next two releases, ‘Inhuman Rampage’ and ‘Ultra Beatdown’, Dragonforce were on top of the metal world. Little did we know that internal disagreements were developing and a major change was about to happen.

The announcement came in March 2010 from guitarist Herman Li himself, that vocalist ZP Theart has departed the band. The process to find another singer seem to take ages, with Dragonforce releasing a two CD live album called ‘Twilight Dementia’ towards the end of 2010 to keep fans happy. Almost a year after Theart left the band, Dragonforce finally found and announced their new vocalist that will take Dragonforce into a new era – enter local Brit and virtual nobody, Marc Hudson. Making the band out of all the applicants that went through is a massive effort and was similarly scripted like the way Mark Wahlberg’s character became the singer for Steel Dragon in the movie “Rock Star”. And why not throw Hudson in the deep end straight away, with his very first gig for Dragonforce was opening for who else but Iron Maiden. Welcome to showbiz, kid.

While the speed in ‘Ultra Beatdown’ was not even faster than in previous albums, it sat around the same pace as ‘Inhuman Rampage’, fans and critics alike were quizzing that surely Dragonforce cannot perform even faster on the new album. And they wouldn’t want to, as going even faster the music would become messy and the band would fall into that trap of releasing the same thing for four straight albums. Luckily this was not to be and the pace on ‘The Power Within’ is dramatically slower, possibly equal (but maybe slightly faster) to the pace of Dragonforce’s debut CD, ‘Valley of the Damned’. Track times have been almost sliced in half, with just one song on the release surpassing the seven minute barrier. The remainder are just around five minutes and under, which to some is a welcomed change, but to others including myself thought it wasn’t needed however I do think the slowing down in pace was definitely needed. I enjoyed Dragonforce’s seven min+ songs, I enjoyed the twin guitar solos that went for two minutes or more, that’s what made Dragonforce the giant it is now.

The songs are more to the point now, still with wonderful guitar-work from Herman Li and Sam Totman, but obviously the solos are shorter as are the extended intro’s to songs. The reduced pace has given back a lot of control to Li and Totman, where the riffs and chords are now less sloppy, however still catchy and creative. Still, I can’t help but feel that a leash has been put around the necks of the band and this may not be how the band really wants to play. Parts of the album, to me, feels somewhat restricted and tight, like battery hens bunched together in cages rather than being let outside in paddocks to roam, wander and fly.

A few of the songs are slightly less memorable compared to previous songs in the Dragonforce discography, missing the real signature sounds that we grew to love from this band; however there are still plenty of songs that fortunately do hit the spot in the right places. Arguably one of the best songs on the album, “Heart of the Storm” is Dragonforce in a nutshell, an energetic track with speedy and creative riffs, laden with layers of keyboards from Vadim Pruzhanov and double bass pummelling coming from Dave Mackintosh. Hudson’s vocals are quite similar to that of Theart, which is understandable why they ultimately chose Hudson as his replacement; so it’s great to hear his melodic and soaring vocals fly high above with passion much like Theart’s used to.

Aside from the fairly cheesy opening passage on the final track, “Last Man Stands”, the remainder of the song is quite uplifting and catchy; however if this song was on any other CD other than this one, the track could have been extended to an 8 minute epic-styled masterpiece, with blistering twin solos and all the trimmings. There is one excellent track that does suite the new shortened style, which is “Die by the Sword”. Clocking in at 4:39, the structure of this song actually does suit the changes Dragonforce have brought in with this new album. There is still the typical flurry of chugging guitar riffs and licks that you expect to hear, however just compacted down but also doesn’t have that rushed or forced feel to it either. With each song I warm more and more to Marc Hudson, who does an excellent debut job on this disc, especially with all eyes (and ears) on him, as well as high expectations and pressure.

While “Seasons” might tread lightly, with an oversaturation of keyboards, and almost boarders on radio friendliness, there are more powerful songs in the names of the Celtic-tinged and melodic “Cry Thunder”, which has powerful and bold vocals from Hudson, a memorable and catchy chorus and soulful mid-paced twin guitar solo that is very well done indeed. This leaves the best songs til last, beginning with the true classic Dragonforce structured track, the seven minute sensation that is “Wings of Liberty”, a speedy track that has constant tempo changes, soaring vocals, double bass pummelling and guitar chords that’ll bring a smile to your face. Lastly there is the dashing, very melodic and classic sounding “Give Me the Night” and the opening two tracks on the album – the brilliant “Holding On” followed by the pulsating and swift “Fallen World”.

In the end once the dust has settled and people telling you that it’s just not Dragonforce anymore and they are not the same with a different singer...forget all that. It still is 100% Dragonforce, the song writing really when you think about it, has not changed an awful lot. Yes the songs are shorter, some of the extra trimmings that were on songs from previous albums have been carved away, which may frustrate some fans who enjoyed that. Yes, some structures have changed, however the blistering and creative guitar riffs and solos remain; the wankery is still there, just to a lesser extent. And yes, the majority of the songs are not at the typical hyperspace speeds that we witnessed on previous releases. One thing is for sure, the speed just had to become slower as fans were getting a bit bored of the same song done over and over again.

Yes, I do feel that the band had to restricted themselves in parts, but the quality of the songs on offer here on ‘The Power Within’ more than makes up for that. I personally feel that there may be leashes around their necks now, but the slack is not very tight at all. ‘The Power Within’ is a grower, it won’t amaze you the first time round, but it will eventually. Fans of Dragonforce who may have had some hesitation at the beginning should just give the band a chance and grab it, as there really isn’t a hellava lot that’s changed. Have some faith in Dragonforce.

Originally written for

DragonForce's Best Effort So Far! - 97%

TechnicalProgDeathThrash, March 1st, 2014

I am not one to say that I am a huge fan of DragonForce (prior to this album). I had listened to all four of their albums and the one thing that I always kept asking myself was, "when is this thing going to end?" On 'The Power Within' I never had this problem. The songs are shorter, which is a major plus because some of the songs on previous efforts just seemed to ramble. This in turn made the whole album boring, with the exception of a few songs. I have never questioned DragonForce's ability to write, the song writing was always there, but using the same formula for every song just doesn't cut it. This is the most notably different thing about 'The Power Within', the songs have shifting tempos and aren't always pushing 200 BPM. It allows the songs to breathe!

The first point worth noting is that the bass is very audible, something DragonForce has never really had. On each and every song you can actually point out what the bass is doing. There are plenty of really cool lines and fills! A great example of this would be the bass in the song 'The Heart Of The Storm.' The playing differentiates from the guitar most of the time, which would please most bassists listening to the album. High five to Frédéric Leclercq! As far as the drums are concerned, they are the same as every other DragonForce album. They follow the music really well and add mostly chaotic drum fills, in the style of Dave Lombardo. The keyboards add plenty of depth on the album on spots that really need it. The most notable occurrence of this is in the song 'Give Me The Night' just after the two minute and thirty second mark. In fact, with the keyboards, the riff reminds of Children of Bodom. This is the greatest compliment to ever be given to a band with a keyboard player!

Now on to the vocals; I went into this album completely blind. Just like everybody else who has never heard Marc Hudson sing. By the time that 'Cry Thunder' came on, I had already been blown away by his ability to shift pitches. I will admit that I like Marc's voice better than ZP's. Marc has a better range, and in my opinion, a better voice in general. When listening to earlier DragonForce stuff, I found that ZP's voice could get irritating, but this never happens to me with Marc. His voice reminds me of James Paul Luna from the band Holy Grail and this is a very good thing. The lyrics have had a change in the way that they are too. The lyrical themes on this album revolve more around fighting about who you are as a person, compared to the fantasy lyrics of before. Before, I had always found DragonForce to have cheesy lyrics that didn't do anything except tell a story. There are actual feelings and meanings behind the new themes. Another great addition to the vocals are the backing vocals, which sometimes adds a choir type feel.

The next point to bring up are the guitars. The guitars have a very clean feeling to them and are tight as usual. One of the most notable things about this album that differ from other albums by DragonForce is the lack of many guitar effects, otherwise known by many as "video game noises." Most of the pyrotechnics have gone away, most likely due to the songs being shorter. I'm not saying there aren't any solos on the album, but there aren't nearly as many as there used to be. It feels as almost all of the songs on the album were radio-cut versions of longer songs. The guitars have plenty of epic solo work, take for instance the beginning of 'Fallen World.' The solos all have a very neo-classical feel to them, which is not unusual for Sam Totman and Herman Li. The last thing about the guitars that I have to mention are that the riffs are actually really good, especially for DragonForce standards.

The production on 'The Power Within' is absolutely crystal clear. This makes for a really polished and clean sound. If you are looking for a raw sound, this may not be the most perfect album for you. Each instrument is understood and is given plenty of breathing room. Credit for this goes to Karl Groom and the guys from DragonForce for putting together a well produced power metal album. One of the greatest things on the entire album is the acoustic version of 'Seasons.' I think that they did a really great job of placing this song at the end of the album because it showcases their ability to play acoustically. The most surprising part about the song is that the guitar solos are very very neo-classical, and are reminiscent of the Canadian thrash band, Annihilator. The song also showcases Marc Hudson's voice and anybody who says that the man can't sing is an absolute fool.

This album would be the perfect soundtrack for riding a horse into battle. It is that epic! I would not be afraid of anything if, while on my horse, I heard 'Seasons' at that exact moment. It seems as if this is the goal for a lot of power metal bands, but only few accomplish it...and on 'The Power Within', DragonForce is able to. The only thing keeping this album from achieving a perfect 100 percent is that the lyrical themes could differ more than what they do, but otherwise, I strongly recommend this album to any fan of DragonForce or power metal, for that matter!

Key standouts are:
Cry Thunder
Give Me The Night
Last Man Stands

An album of changes. - 90%

SRMetalhead, December 13th, 2012

The long awaited 5th album from Dragonforce – promised to be their best, most diverse effort, containing things that “you would never expect from us(them)” according to Herman Li. I was excited to hear all this, but was afraid of the possibilities of some over – hyping here; surprisingly, to many people, it has met all expectations; the blazing fast solos, the catchy choruses, the fast keyboard solos, high pitched vocals (more on that later) and nonsensical lyrics – they’re all there, but there are some differences from their earlier efforts that make this album a killer.

First off, the bass is audible and has a few solos thrown in.
I’m going to repeat that, as it deserves repeating:

“bass is AUDIBLE and has a few SOLOS thrown in”

It truly is an incredible addition to this album – the bass provides excellent backup in the pre-solo in “Give Me The Night”, which I personally find to be one of their best songs so far (the best would have to be “Valley of The Damned”, but that’s another review).

Secondly, every song, except for “Wings of Liberty” is under 5 and a half minutes long! This is the biggest Dragonforce album in terms of number of songs, but the shortest in real length – by about a minute, but still, it’s shorter! So Kudos to Sam Totman for having managed to squish in so much incredible music into such short songs.

Another noticeable difference is in the vocals – Marc Hudson, the new vocalist bought in after ZP Theart’s departure, does an amazing job on this album. He has a voice reminiscent to Michael Kiske – who I am a MASSIVE fan of, and so I feel that they have made a brilliant decision in picking him. I’m pretty sure they wanted to squeeze as much of his voice out as possible – there are about 2+3+1+2+2+2+1=13 sustained screams on this album, (3 in “Fallen World”!)and the only songs without any being “Heart of the Storm” and “Die by the Sword”. Personally, I LOVE the cleanliness of his voice and the aggression that he can use, as displayed in the verse on “Heart of the Storm”. He also has a MASSIVE vocal range, like Kiske, and about twice that of Theart, if not more.

Lastly, absolutely no riffs are repeated; People complained about repetition in all their albums, but not on this one – absolutely no repetition in any songs – song structures may be the same, but not the song content.

Wait......the biggest change is yet to come.....the tempo changes! Aside for the token ballads in their other albums (which this one doesn’t have – my only complaint), every song was 180 to 200 BPM throughout; in this album, “Cry Thunder”, with that addicting romp of a beat and “Seasons”, with an almost guitarless verse and a drum beat devoid of double bass prove that Dragonforce have indeed produced their most diverse album.

After several listens, can say that I still love this album as much as I did when I first listened to it, but somehow, I don’t know why, something isn't right; it’s almost clearly the production.

Don’t get me wrong here; the production is brilliant and clear, with all the instruments heard when they need to be heard; it just lacks that “oomph” that it did in the past few albums; I prefer listening to the live performances of the songs on this album (if they are available) against the actual song, which says that the ‘oomph” here is the intensity and realism factor; the previous albums had all that, this one doesn't.

Final Words: The acoustic version of Seasons is a very good song, but stands amongst a wave of INCREDIBLE power metal from one of the most controversial bands in the genre; If not for the lack of a ballad and production issues, I’d give this album a 100/100.

Oh Please, You, Like, Sneeze Glitter... - 30%

Left Hand Ov Dog, September 14th, 2012

It seems as though Dragonforce have been listening to the voices of the people. Unfortunately, the loudest and most penetrating of these seem to have been the detractors, as The Power Within, in an attempt to appease the jaded rockers who likely wouldn’t like them in any event, have decided to sacrifice any semblance of individuality in a quest of acceptance. Now, to be fair, I’d been getting a bit tired of their spastic plastic fantastic formula following the release of Ultra Beatdown, but it still contained plenty of reason to love the band. Essentially, this boils down to the solos, generally 3-4 minutes of twiddle-tastic insanity that set the band apart from the hordes of samey, ho-hum happy-rainbow power metal bands the world over. In the old days (on the excellent Valley of the Damned and Sonic Firestorm), when the band was exciting and fresh, the choruses were also a huge draw, but the bands actual songwriting of late has declined into pretty predictable fare. Still, gotta love that insane guitar work. Hell, that aspect alone made Inhuman Rampage a smashing success.

Well, The Power Within has sacrificed the last interesting aspect in the world of Dragonforce, fully embracing the genre average 4-5 minute song length, likely in an attempt to reinvent themselves in the eyes of a metal world that insists they are growing stale. The monumentally fantastic solos are gone. Just up and vanished, along with long time singer ZP Theart. I always liked the guy, but oh well. Marc Hudson is certainly acceptable as a replacement, even if he lacks a distinct personality, but his contribution here is really of minor consequence in the long run, as his performance is crippled by the insincerity of the music, and its awful, awful lyrics. It’s puzzling to write that, since we all know Dragonforce have never been poet laureates, but they aren’t even trying anymore. Perhaps it is Hudson, as there is certainly a lack of conviction in his delivery. More likely, though, it’s a combination, a band attempting to bring back the magic of its glory days without the essential burning spirit to do so. The entire package feels like a third rate caricature of what the band can do, and has done, spiritually akin to the brand new failure from the mighty Ensiferum, though that’s a bit unfair to them, in truth. It’s quite disheartening, as the band can still clearly not suck, if only they so desired. There’s a huge amount of talent here, but it’s completely wasted on this fluffy, generic swill.

To be blunt, this is perhaps the most middling album I’ve heard all year, and a completely unacceptable release from a group as admittedly capable as Dragonforce. With the absolute dirth of guitar bridge creativity, the songs must now stand completely on the strength of their verses and choruses, and the supporting riffs. I will concede that there are some delicious leads and short solos to be found, scattered along the way, but in the face of this unbridled, sparkly mediocrity, they do little to dissuade my resignation. My complaint is quite simple, really: I find these songs to be unrepentantly boring, flowery and sugary to the max, and completely lacking the cheese-addled power of yesteryear. The choruses are not glorious or uplifting, at least not in a way I can relate to, being older than 12, and the verses lack any legitimate creativity or passion. And again, those lyrics… ugh. Holding On could be the new Pokemon theme song and I wouldn’t bat a fucking eye.

Honestly, I’m not a dick, I promise. Ok, maybe I am, but I don’t feel like I’m asking for much here. I really don’t require a lot to enjoy Dragonforce. Even with the disappearance of the glorious, heart-warming choruses that were so mightily prevalent on the first few records, I was satisfied with bombastic guitar heroics, but now those have been removed. This is not a reinvention, or a reaffirmation, despite what the puzzlingly positive fan response The Power Within has gotten. What it is, is one of those hollow, chocolate Easter bunnies: A mere sugary shell of a once-potent concept, perhaps mildly tasty at first, but wholly unfulfilling, and even a bit sickening, at length. I realize I’m usually far more descriptive concerning musical passages, but there is almost nothing to say about this album, so devoid is it of anything substantial. Despite (or perhaps because of) how obviously tailored these songs are to be as concise and catchy as possible, they feel devoid of any feeling, not dissimilar to the local pop music flavor of the week. Sugary, infectious, happy chorus, melodic lead, short solo, sappy child-anime lyrics, rinse, repeat, and gag once for the drowning, gurgling concepts of art and innovation. This is power metal for 5 year olds, Blind Guardian distilled by the diabetes-inducing likes of My Little Pony or Rainbow Brite. The Power Within is the audible equivalent of fluffing up your pink unicorn pillow. Baby’s First Gamma Ray! Whereas once I was proud and elated to gorge upon this heaping treasure of dragon cheese, the stores have spoiled past recognition, leaving naught but a solitary dribble of Keebler jizz. For the love of metal, avoid this stomach-churning travesty.

-Left Hand of Dog

The dawn of a grand new chapter! - 95%

slayrrr666, August 28th, 2012
Written based on this version: 2012, CD, Roadrunner Records

There’s not a lot to say about the major line-up change to be had, it doesn’t really determine the review one way or another and is not a valid factor in it anyway, so let’s get that out of the way immediately.

That said, the newest release from the multinational power metallers is about as good a release as you can expect from such a group, bristling with the type of material they’ve become known for and utilizing their strengths as well as can be expected.

Right from the beginning, this feels like typical DragonForce, as opener ‘Holding On’ feels like an number of songs from their previous albums with its charging pace, frenetic solo-work and utterly infectious melodies topped off with air-raid siren vocals and a catchy chorus. This continues with the second track, ‘Fallen World,’ which continues the pattern displayed above and tends to feel as though it’s been a part of the band’s catalog since the beginning, only this one contains the album’s best soloing in a frenetic, chaotic dueling section that creates a lasting impression. With the absence of their epic-length songs, this album features only one clocking in over seven minutes but it’s traded away for one that could’ve been done as such, ‘Cry Thunder’ which carries a regal air with its classy pace, thundering drums and epic feel. Other greats include the up-tempo rager ‘Die By the Sword’ and ‘Heart of the Storm,’ both of which create a great feel with their up-tempo pace, infectious melodies and memorable riff-work.

Without question, though, the album’s best song is the simply marvelous ‘Give Me the Night,’ the true fastest song the band has ever recorded and features everything that encapsulates the band in one track. The pace is just absolutely chaotic, the guitars shimmer along with epic riffs that create a vast soundscape mixed to breathtaking perfection with absolutely thunderous double-bass drumming and ornate keyboard work, the entire affair capped off with amazing soloing and the most insane, catchy chorus of the band’s career. This is a track that should see its way into the live setting with great ease and be a staple for years to come. Even the multi-sectioned ‘Wings of Liberty’ deserves mention, with its fake balladry intro that transforms into full-throttle rager that works itself into a memorable piece with another catchy chorus and those moody, introspective interludes the band does so well.

So, the big question now is, who’s the better vocalist? Really, it depends on personal preference but take note that current singer Marc Hudson gives the band more of a traditional power metal sound up-front, as he can soar over the high-speed, thrash-injected riffing or carry the more mid-tempo sections with ease, contains a thoroughly melodic quality with a sense of class and infectious-ness that feels fresh and complements their trademark sound. That’s still present in spades here, maybe a little less so due to the shortened song lengths but overall, this change isn’t a bad one and definitely helps the band continue onward in a great direction in the future.

Originally reviewed at The Site:

Back to basics. - 79%

AnalogKid, July 14th, 2012

Like everyone else, I joined in the collective eyeroll that occurred when we heard that power metal’s most kitschy and stereotypically dumb band was coming out with another album. However, my own eyeroll was punctuated by a hopeful half-smile, since I rather enjoyed the absurdly titled Ultra Beatdown of 2008. With ZP Theart dismissed from the band and a new frontman in the form of Marc Hudson, there was no question that some change was going to occur. Given the considerable improvement between Inhuman Rampage and Ultra Beatdown, I was hoping that the band would turn down their song lengths and lay off the elongated guitar solos, instead taking the more compact route.

In this respect at least, I am not disappointed in the least by The Power Within, which features a modest nine tracks, and only a single composition clearing five and a half minutes. What I did not anticipate was the considerable tempo change. While there is still an occasional blazing lead or solo with the typical Dragonforce bending and tremolo picking, all of the music that really stands out on this album is surprisingly down-tempo and, some might say, comparatively “boring”. In addition to the pacing change, Marc Hudson prefers the middling vocal range rather than the more stratospheric strains that were Theart’s domain.

As you might imagine, this can make for a rather different atmosphere than we’re used to hearing from the band. Rather than the ripping tracks of old (though music like “Wings Of Liberty” hearken back in time a bit), Dragonforce leans more heavily on the talents of Hudson, featuring him consistently in more lyrical and easily accessible choruses than the band has ever used before. While the lyrics are, as always, as trite as they come, they are at least more coherent than some of the ridiculous efforts off of Valley Of The Damned or Sonic Firestorm. It is for this reason that I think that the band finally manages to avoid complete and utter dismissal when it comes to their lyricism. In fact, despite the silliness, I think that The Power Within is easily the most uplifting release that I have heard this year.

Which brings us nicely to the punch: The Power Within is a compact slug of an album that is overwhelmingly generic, but we’re no longer listening to a couple of immature guys simply living off of their gimmick of playing as fast as possible. Actually, in a way I feel that The Power Within is as much a step back (in a reflective and collective sense) as it is forward, as it sees the band adopting a more basic, accessible, and less frenzied approach. If it weren’t so polished, I might almost have guessed that it was the band’s debut, before they became speed obsessed. That said, I’m not sorry to see it placed as the most recent entry in their discography. This is still very much a Dragonforce album, and it has their signature melodies all over it- you couldn’t mistake their fairly redundant formulas for anyone else if you tried. However, there are a few exceptions. The victorious stomp of “Cry Thunder” makes it an instant winner with its anthemically rousing chorus. Moving through the album, “Seasons” throws down a surprisingly hooky and subtle chorus (something practically unprecedented in past works), while the closer “Last Man Stands” winds the album up a mountainside and ends, with great finality, alone atop the pinnacle. Without a doubt, this is my favorite Dragonforce closer since “Heart Of A Dragon”, and a very strong finish to a very strong album (Hudson even reaches up for a great scream to finish the song in truly epic fasion).

The Power Within has stirred my hopes for Dragonforce, and while they still lack a great deal in terms of original formula and variety, I feel that they’ve thoroughly proven at this point that they’re more than just a prolonged gimmick. Choruses matter now- they’re not just a platform from which Totman and Li launch their guitar solos. While some of the band’s more ADD fans might decry this album as boring, those fans are probably not real metalheads anyways. To anyone who has dismissed Dragonforce in the past: you should hear this one before passing final judgment. Forget that you’ve heard all the lyrics before and focus on the music, especially in the more varied songs on this album, and you might just find a competent power metal band finally doing power metal really well.

Original review written for Black Wind Metal

Actual power metal, instead of Best of Guitar Hero - 80%

Andromeda_Unchained, July 9th, 2012

YES! This is the Dragonforce album I've wanted to hear since Valley of the Damned. I have no problem in admitting that I like this band, and whilst their last few albums were very hit or miss (although Ultra Beatdown had some great moments) I still followed the band, and it finally paid off. ZP Theart leaving was the best decision for both parties. I'm not about to proclaim Marc Hudson as the best singer going, but he was the right choice for the band, and has an endearing quality which really helps on The Power Within.

On the subject of Marc I guess I'll get this part out of the way first then we concentrate on the music. I watched Marc's audition and it was impressive, although I will say I was expecting better from that audition. Whilst good and definitely a good fit for the band, I don't think his potential was fully realized here. I think Dragonforce really need to look at the way they write their vocal lines, as they're very similar sounding, and this kind of thing makes all the difference between a good band, and a great band.

As for the actual music, I'd have to say that this is probably the best I've heard from the band. Shorter songs, a cut back on the masturbation, and whilst there are a lot of similar vocal lines they actually manage to break it up and gain some slight new ground. At just over 45 minutes The Power Within blazes across the speakers, no room for ballads, just a whole load of fun. Tracks such as "Holding On" and "Give Me the Night" are immediate stop-off points for fans of the band's last few releases. However the tracks that really set this apart from the last few are the likes of "Seasons" which stands as the best track Dragonforce have written to date, reminding me of the very best the latest Enbound had to offer. They even manage to change the vocal melodies a bit, and it really fucking works; more of this next time, lads. "Cry Thunder" is another track that sets this apart, taking a more mid pace and boasting a sweet folk-like bounce; a surefire live favorite. Finally is "Last Man Stands" which whilst hardly breaking new ground has to be mentioned as an absolute highlight, mainly because it shows Dragonforce nailing a truly memorable guitar solo, which I feel is a rarity (post first chorus).

If you've never liked Dragonforce there's no way The Power Within will change your mind. However if you lost interest in the last few releases but enjoyed the band in the early days now is the time to give them another shot. Previously established Dragonforce fans might be inclined for a little cry over the fact that this isn't as long-winded, or that ZP Theart is gone, but it's their loss. This plays out more like an actual power metal album than Guitar Heroes greatest hits, and for that I commend Dragonforce. They've set a good foundation to build on and I hope to see more varied vocal lines next time around, and maybe some tracks like "Reason to Live" from the previous album.

Originally written for

Finding their way home again. - 87%

Satosuke, July 6th, 2012

In reviewing their previous album Ultra Beatdown, I lamented that Dragonforce was squandering their talent on playing fast and neglecting lyrics and composition, leading them down a sad road of repetition and boredom, expressing doubt that the glimmers of good music in that album were a harbinger of their return to form.

After listening to this new offering, all I can say is...damn was I wrong. And damn it feels good to be this wrong.

Okay, okay, let's get the first nitpick out of the way. Yeah, their lyrics are still pretty entrenched in sword-&-sorcery tropes, but they actually put down the thesaurus and read some damn books this time, because there seems to be actual VARIETY in the lyrics again.

Anyway, that aside, I am beyond pleasantly surprised by this new album. It really does feel like they found their way again and went through a big rebirth. ZP Theart's gigantic blasting falsetto is gone, replaced by seeming unknown Marc Hudson, and he proves to be a more than adequate replacement, keeping his voice in a mid-high range for the most part but belting out big metal wails with ease. His voice also just sounds smoother and blends better with the instruments. ZP was great, but his voice towered even over the supersonic guitars. Marc Hudson fits right into the band as if he were meant to be there.

And holy crap...they finally SLOWED DOWN A LITTLE. Their first single Cry Thunder was only somewhat more blazing fast than the average power metal band, which really benefits the song and REALLY makes it bigger and more impactful when the guitar throttle is thrown into gear. The opening of Give Me the Night hits like a damned truck after a relatively slower track, and, hey, look at that, ballad segments again! I could literally cry thunder I'm so happy that Li and Totman have remembered how to play slow and eliminate the "wall of speed" problem plaguing them since their albatross-like megahit Inhuman Rampage

Is this album honestly as awesome as I'm making it out to be? Not quite. There's still a bit of lyrical repetition, and this is definitely dopey fantasy music; not conceptually rich power metal like Blind Guardian or Falconer. But with that said, this is an intensely satisfying return to form for Dragonforce, especially with the excellent new vocalist. If it's still not as good as Valley of the Damned, it comes in an extremely close second.

DragonForce: Rebooted - 100%

kgerych1995, May 6th, 2012

Take all you once knew about DragonForce and throw it all away, this is the new DragonForce and its better than before:

Now I have always been a fan of DragonForce since I heard the track "Valley Of The Damned" on the radio years ago. Around 2006, they achieved extreme commercial success with perhaps their best known track "Through The Fire And Flames", which introduced the nerds to DragonForce. I was never a huge fan of Z.P Theart's nasally, annoying voice, (Not to mention he looks eerily reminiscent of Weird Al Yankovic at some points), so I was naturally interested when I heard that Theart had quit in early 2010. I had liked DragonForce before, but I was wondering what was to happen now after the departure of their ONLY singer up to that point....

Well fast forward a few years later and we now have the finished product that DragonForce fans have been waiting for since their 2008 album "Ultra Beatdown". "The Power Within" features new vocalist Marc Hudson, who totally changes the game on this album. Gone are all of the nasally, whiny vocals in favor of a Michael Kiske-esque style of vocals with an extremely vast and powerful range. The album's opener, "Holding On" gives the fans a little taste of the young Hudson, with the first things being uttered being his immense "power scream" which sounds like a dead ringer for Kiske, circa Keeper Of The Seven Keys, Part I. The other tracks on the record begin to break away from the typical, shred style of playing, in favor of slowing down for tracks like "Cry Thunder", a blazing mid-paced romp which shows us just how capable DragonForce is of slowing the pace. Personally, the first 3 tracks are the greatest that DragonForce has ever made. "Fallen World" is a typical (well...nothings typical with Hudson gracing the pipes) DragonForce song: extreme shredding, majestic lyrics, yet the keyboards, somewhat, take a tad of a backseat in the song.

Overall, I think that this is DragonForce's opus. Its going to be extremely hard to top this, but I think they will be able to pull it all off. With Marc Hudson in tow, DragonForce is still capable of doing anything. They can probably make a smooth jazz album and still make it sound metal as long as this lineup stays in tact. I would suggest this for anyone who is into metal in general, seeing that there is a whole lot to like about this scathing metal platter.

Not the same ol' shit anymore - 85%

sharkruisher13, May 3rd, 2012

Dragonforce, the band that is famous for long and crazy guitar solos and for having one of the hardest songs in the entire Guitar Hero catalog. The band can of course make music but it is way too repetitive. Let us before we start this review compare my four favourite songs from the band. The songs are Operation Ground And Pound, My Spirit Will Go On, Heroes of Our Time and Revolution Deathsquad. Listen to these songs before you continue reading this review. Are you done? Can you find any difference between the songs? (except the obvious lyrics and music changes). Every song is about war, honour and fighting spirit and the songs got the same construction, intro-guitar solo-verse-bridge-chorus-guitar solo-verse-bridge-chorus-some riffs-a super mega long guitar solo-breakdown-chorus-outro. That is why Dragonforce is a band I both love and hate.

Now to the actual review. First off, what do I think of the new singer Marc Hudson? He got better quality in his voice compared to the former singer ZP Theart but I think that ZP got a more of a unique voice, a voice you can recognize. So the verdict is that Marc Hudson is a great replacement.

It may also be that the change of singer could have helped the band. Dragonforce have almost made a complete U-turn in the song creation section on The Power Within. Sure, the crazy guitars, the soaring vocals and the speed is still there but now the band have learned to get in some variation in the song structures. You want to know what I think of it? FINALLY!!!!!!!!! That was the only thing Dragonforce was missing to get me over to their side. Now i can finally enjoy their music without the concern of the band repeating themselves. We got Give Me The Night, a song with a spot on chorus and some of the best guitar work on the whole album. A perfect power metal song. Then we also got the meaningful Seasons, a song that let out so many emotions (good emotions). A song that sounds a lot like Stratovarius, another great power metal band. We also got the fast and "hooky" Die By The Sword. It is a song that goes straight to the point. Probably the song that is closest to the "old" Dragonforce. Altough I like the most of the song we still got some dissapointments. Cry Thunder is just weak and Wings of Liberty is a very whimpy version of any DF song in the past. But overall I am very satisfied with the song selection.

There is still one thing that Dragonforce must change for me to completely trust them. The theme of the lyrics. The band has been more flexible on that part as well but this thing with battles, war and that is a little worn out. Find something else to sing about thank you.

It is not the same shit anymore. Dragonforce has finally learned to write different kinds of songs. And it actually sound really good. It is not repetitive, it is not exaggerated, instead it is true and modern power metal as it is supposed to sound. I just now hope that the band does not fall into old sins and keep doing this kind of music instead. Good work guys.

Best song: Give Me The Night

Rating: 8,5/10 Fallen World

Also available in Swedish on

They Haven't Sounded this Power Metal in Ages! - 89%

megadieftw, May 2nd, 2012

The Power Within is a fantastic "comeback" album (I call it a comeback because the Force had been inactive for a couple of years prior searching for a vocalist to replace ZP Theart). I did really like Ultra Beatdown, The Power Within's predecessor, however the latter is vastly improved and has made me realize that maybe UB had some crucial elements missing.

First, the songs are the shortest they've consecutively been on this album. There's been one or two short songs in the past, but always surrounded by epics. Here The Force, or really Sam Totman (the main songwriter) has made probably the biggest divergence from any DF album yet by having all the songs less than 5:20 bar Wings of Liberty, clocking in at 7:23. This I think really aids the album tremendously. They do long songs really well; Sonic Firestorm is a testament to that fact, however this doesn't always make them easy to listen to as Dragonforce has quite an intense sound. Breaking that sound down into a more manageable size has really enhanced the songs and greatly aids my next point.

The songs are the catchiest they've been. Totman has really come up with some fantastic choruses and riffs, and aided by the shorter song structure I have noticed myself remembering the words to Dragonforce songs for the first time properly since Valley of the Damned (The band's debut). The songwriting is not as over the top as on UB, which has a bit too much going on in the background and sounds very overdone in places. Here they've scaled that right back. They sound very much more like a power metal band and less like an arcade-hi-score-in-a- blastbeat-drum-workshop, more so than on anything since their debut.

The overall sound of the album is very much more in the vein of their debut, with shorter songs and with more meaning behind them rather than extreme power metal epics with very generic power metal lyrics. Here you can really feel the difference in the themes of the songs much more. The shorter songs contribute to this as well.

Overall, I think this is one of the best albums they've released, and maybe even in time will become my full favourite. Marc Hudson is a fantastic addition to the band and his singing style really adds a breath of fresh air to the band's fresh start and compliments the new song style greatly. This is still the same Dragonforce we all love, but with a fantastic new edge.

They've still got the power. - 84%

hells_unicorn, May 2nd, 2012

Heroism is a concept that is often lost on much of the metal world, primarily because it’s the oldest story cliché out there. The modern craze with protagonists in black or a twisted tale of one evil against another are more en vogue, and with that eventuality comes a contempt for a traditional contrast of light and darkness, let alone a 40 minutes plus glory fest for the side of truth and justice. That’s basically Dragonforce’s dilemma with the metal world apart from the occasional guilty pleasure type or their own target audience of lofty dreamers who aren’t inclined towards the extreme side of the coin, they’re just too positive for their own good. Forget the babbling about too many fast guitar solos or being a one trick pony (these traits define a number of death and thrash metal bans that don’t enjoy nearly as much scorn), the real issue is that this band is too catchy and doesn’t give the bad guys their due.

While the previous sentiments espoused here might appear defensive, they are more an assessment of how the revamped Dragonforce that is presented on “The Power Within” will not satisfy their critics, even if it addresses every other issue brought by them apart from the principle one alluded to. This is an album that embodies a different era of power metal, one that coexisted at the band’s inception under the name Dragonheart, but was never embraced by them as it would have necessitated shorter, simpler songs and a humbler vocal performance. And that is what this album basically comes off as, a humbler version of its former self. It’s still a thrill ride when it resorts to extremes of speed and technical flair, but these elements are fewer and further between, and in its place is a collection of catchy and predictable songs that remind of a number of Finnish and Swedish albums that were prevalent circa 2000-2002.

This is still a Dragonforce album in the general sense, as it possesses the same melodic contour that Sam Totman has been touting since the turn of the millennium, but specifically speaking it’s a good bit different. Slower songs such as “Cry Thunder” and “Seasons” that flirt with a sound somewhere between mid-tempo Gamma Ray and radio single Stratovarius fair were not really in this band’s vocabulary save perhaps the lone oddball slower song on “Ultra Beatdown” dubbed “Last Journey Home”, but that song was more a slow progressing epic that equaled the time length of both these songs put together. The feel of the entire album is a bit quicker, not so much tempo but in term of its progression from beginning to end. It almost seems that they’re getting back to their roots, but in a way that would make them a bit more commonplace amongst what was going on at that time.

It’s easy to overplay the differences between former front man ZP Theart and his replacement Marc Hudson given how distinctive the former was from most vocalists, but the latter does embody many similar qualities. In fact, despite Hudson’s naturally lower timbre and his tendency to sound like a mid-ranged Chris Bay during many of these songs, his banshee shrieks are a bit more powerful and possessed of greater bite than anything ZP would belt out during his numerous stints in the vocal stratosphere. The beginning of “Holding On” alone rivals the more gut-wrenching wails heard out of Halford or Dickinson during the early 80s, and Marc’s ability to soften his voice to a light croon on the acoustic version of “Seasons” included on the special addition of this is far superior than anything heard out of his predecessor.

Through it all, while many things have been changed, the overall aura of this band hasn’t changed much. Those who crave those bygone tales where the good guys win and eternal glory reigns reinterpreted into a modern, speed infused celebration of melody will find all the usual ingredients, though the overall flavor is not as overwhelmingly potent. A few naysayers who’d like something a little closer to the Manowar ideal might be won over by this, but the situation will probably remain the same in this regard. But from someone who likes a little sunlight once in a while after frolicking in the darkness of the freezing moon or surviving the nuclear winter, there’s no need to mess with what works, and this definitely does.

Another solid album. - 72%

Empyreal, May 1st, 2012

Oh, how people love to rip on this band…Dragonforce, famous for Guitar Hero and the fact that they’re the musical equivalent of either ADD or a sugar rush depending on how offensive you want to get, has finally come out with their fifth full length album The Power Within, and their first after old singer ZP Theart jumped ship. Here we get the youthful and soaring pipes of new guy Marc Hudson. Does he do a good job? Well let’s find out.

Now, I’m not like most people; I think ZP Theart was the best thing about Dragonforce. His clear, charismatic sneer just defined the band for me, and it owned every facet of the music every time he sang, so great was his ability to write hooks. He was the voice of the band, no question about it. Their last album Ultra Beatdown actually showcased his dominating vocals over the manic speed guitars a lot of the time – perhaps it was the onset of the whole ‘megalomaniacal singer’ disease, which might have been why he was eventually ejected from the band. I don’t know.

Marc Hudson is good, too, and sometimes, as on “Holding On,” he sounds identical to ZP. But his voice is more American sounding and also a bit deeper, and he gives the band this weirdly youthful, B-grade power metal vibe like a lot of vintage 2000-2003 bands. He’s better than some of those singers were, and more pro-sounding, but his stuffy mid-range is oddly charming anyway.

The songwriting is still the same hyperspeed bursts of melody with super-hooky choruses, but this time the band has dialed it down and made shorter songs, like a lot of their detractors wanted. It’s definitely a good thing, and makes for a much easier listen through the whole album, but the problem here is that not every song is really that good. On songs like the catchy “Fallen World,” the hyperspeed “Give Me the Night” or wonderful opener “Holding On,” the band sounds on-point and maybe better than ever. “Cry Thunder” is a midpaced rocking number with a traditional metal-styled chorus, and it’s also one of the better ones on here. But the last half of the album just sort of dies off, with less memorable tunes that just blur together, so it’s a bit of a double edged sword.

Most people will harp on about how bad this band is and whatever the hell else, but really, Dragonforce is what it is – a catchy band playing fun songs, nothing else. I could try to be high-brow and pretend I didn’t enjoy this, but really every now and again I like this kind of stuff; this hyper-catchy, hook-filled solo-masturbation type of music that Dragonforce makes. They write some really enjoyable songs, and it’s good to see that hasn’t changed with The Power Within.

Critics will be happy, true fans won't be - 62%

kluseba, April 29th, 2012

I have always defended the style of DragonForce towards the incredible high amount of haters of this band. Many metal fans claim that DragonForce are too commercial and only gained success thanks to the youth that bought the Guitar Hero series. Others say that they are a terrible live band and use a lot of techniques in the studio to sound the way they are as they are not truly gifted musicians. Some even say that the band is only a faster version of traditional European power metal acts such as Helloween. Personally, I think none of this is actually true. The band has a quite unique sound, they perform better live than their reputation says and I don't care about how they gained success as long as they make good music. I even know some people that got into the metal universe thanks to bands like DragonForce and I think that's a positive promotion for an entire music style and lifestyle ideology.

The problem with this album is that the band has maybe been sensitive to the harsh critics as they pretty much have thrown everything overboard they once stood for. The songs are getting shorter and have a bigger focus on the solid but in the end exchangeable vocals than before. I miss the high degree of details and changes of style beneath the wall of sound that made the first records so interesting to discover. I miss the unchained emotional guitar solos that have become a trademark of this brand. This new album offers nothing of all of this and underlines the bad impressions I had after I first heard the redundant single output "Cry Thunder" which even turns out to be among the better tracks on this mediocre record.

The true highlights can be found in the middle of this album. "Give Me The Night" has a fresh audible bass guitar line, doesn't employ the use of atmospheric keyboards too much and has even a great melodic metal guitar solo. Some experiments as the mid-paced "Seasons" are interesting and work well, not because of the strong vocals or the hilarious guitar solos but because of a great bass guitar work once again and a relaxed atmosphere. The bass guitar really stands out at some points of the record. I don't think that the bass guitar play has much improved in comparison to the previous records but the quality of the guitar solos, the energizing vocals and the technical drumming have all decreased while only the keyboards are used less but in a more efficient way. I think that the keyboard atmosphere and bass guitar dominated passages really save this record.

Sometimes, the band shows that they have not forgotten where they come from and still have a lot of talent. "Wings Of Liberty" is an epic track that starts a little bit too cheesy in my opinion but after a few minutes, the band delivers what it truly stands for: a short but addicting bass guitar solo, diversified and unchained vocals, energizing guitar riffs and finally also some great solo parts. This track is by far the longest one on this release and it has its good reasons to be that long as it has a lot to say. Many people identify this track as one of the weakest songs on this new release and praise the shorter and more consistent songs on this record but I have to disagree and prefer by far the old style to the new one. Normally, I prefer short tracks that get to the point but in the case of DragonForce I like their extensive solos when they get loose, have some fun and prove their musical talent. On this record, they simply have their feet too much on the brake than on the gas pedal. There is not much power within these nine or ten tracks in the end.

DragonForce fans should listen to the band's new approaches before purchasing this new record. Haters and sceptics might be surprised by the band's slight change of style or continue bashing them without any true reasons. I think this is the band's weakest output to date and they assimilated too much to the critical voices and got away from their typical and unique sound they were best known for. I don't mind about experiments but this bloodless, failed commercial and too compact approach doesn't fit at all and slows down the talent of these exceptional musicians. Not everything is bad on this output but blind criticism as well as the recent line-up change or a despaired new approach may sadly slow down this band instead of helping them to improve, take a true risk and don't care about the bad blood. Personally, I won't listen to the band's weakest record to date and prefer to enjoy the other solid albums from time to time.

Not great, not terrible - 80%

ijy10152, April 22nd, 2012

This album is Dragonforce's first with their new singer, Marc Hudson, and that shows through very clearly. But first let me say that while Dragonforce is not an amazing band, they're not bad either. They are a very technically-skilled band and are only too willing to show that off. I have always enjoyed the catchiness of their music and even though that element was less present in Inhuman Rampage, that album had a different element present which people fail to realize (it's still their worst album so far). It was incredibly epic and had some really, really good (skill-wise) playing on it. They went back to their better Sonic Firestorm days with Ultra Beatdown, slowing down a bit and really adding some melodic elements into their music and I really like that side of Dragonforce; the one that still shows off, but also shows restraint when necessary (unlike Inhuman Rampage).

This album is a slight step backwards, not towards Inhuman Rampage, but towards something different and completely new for Dragonforce. The songs aren't nearly as long which was actually a disappointment for me because I rather enjoyed their previous longer songs with amazing guitar solos. But I do think that this has shown a maturing in the band. While there are still some really cool solos, but they're not nearly as long, which was kind of Dragonforce's trademark. In some places this album has much of the "old Dragonforce" with songs like Give me the Dark, Heart of the Storm, and Die by the Sword. The new Dragonforce is more prevalent in Wings of Liberty, Cry Thunder, and Seasons and I really do like everything on this album, but the problem is that I don't really love any of it. You can tell that with the new singer Dragonforce wanted to do something different, but they also wanted to play it safe and not do anything out of the box. This album is very safe and very average. I do like Marc's voice, but I think they really could have done more with it. There really aren't very many of the high soaring vocals evident in previous Dragonforce works and a lot more just straight singing that make the vocals kind of boring. But the drums and bass really get an upgrade in the album with the drummer really getting to show off his true talent with a lot more complex and varied drum beats. The bass plays a much bigger part in this than in the last album and really more than ever before. I mean you can really hear it and tell it apart from the rest of the instruments.

All in all, this is a very solid effort with a chance for each instrument to shine. Personally, I thought the vocals didn't really make enough of an impact and there wasn't quite as much soloing as I was expecting from Dragonforce, but this is still very Dragonforce with some very noticeable changes. I hope that Marc really does more with his voice in their next album and that they include maybe another song or two going over 7 minutes. The highlights from this album are Give Me the Night, Cry Thunder, Seasons, and Last Man Standing.

New Singer Brings Change...Or Does He? - 86%

octavarium, April 21st, 2012

DragonForce: perhaps the most polarizing band in all of metal. Just mentioning their name could result in criticism and derision. There are even those who still insist that they're guitar solos are edited and sped up in the studio. Yet they have proven to be currently the most successful band in the normally obsucre genre of power metal in music. The band first made small noise with their blistering speed riffs and over-the-top solos and video game-inspired sounds considered in an already speedy genre of music. Then came their mainstream exposure in the form of Guitar Hero featuring their biggest hit "Through the Fire and Flames", the most difficult song in the game's history. And once they got bigger is when people began to cry foul. Their guitar solos were "wanking" and "musical masturbation." Their lyrics were cheesy and almost always about comraderie and defeating the forces of evil under "blackened skies" that were always "so far away." Then there was lead singer ZP Theart and his incredibly high and animated tenor which became the most hated sound in metal. But Theart is gone and has been replaced by Youtube auditioneer Marc Hudson. With The Power Within, DragonForce has seemingly changed so much yet has also changed so little.

To be honest, I never understood why DragonForce was so hated. Yes, their lyrics are goofy and often times repetitive, yes they go a little overboard on soloing, and yes ZP's voice was high and animated. But there was no denying that Theart could really hold a note and deliver a scream. And being a fan of solo-heavy bands such as Dream Theater, I can appreciate musicianship. And that is what has always confused me about the critiques of guitar duo Sam Totman and Herman Li. When their riffs and solos have not been accused of editing fraud, they are criticized for their solo "wanking." Without a doubt, Li and Totman are two of the finest guitarists the metal world has seen, as no one yet has been able to match their speed and intensity. Perhaps the band was trying to address these issues and criticims in the recording of this album while at the same time please the fans who have always been loyal to them.

The Power Within is DragonForce's most straightforward album. While the extended solos were always fun and impressive, they really had a habit of dragging on to the point of feeling "yeah, they're great, when's the chorus coming back?" This time, the album is much more trimmed down, most songs only clocking in at about four-and-a-half to five minutes. The length of the longest song, Wings of Liberty, would have normally qualified as a "short" song on their previous albums, barely going over the seven minute mark. There are still frantic and wailing video game-sounding solos, but Li and Totman get to the point a lot quicker than usual. The lyrics, for the most part, are exactly what you would expect from DragonForce: swords, battles, comradrie, and defeating the forces of evil. However, the lyrics contain a hint of seriousness (I use that lightly), the most notable of which is featured in the song Seasons. Seasons is quite frankly the best song on the album, somewhat toned down in speed (maybe as fast as "normal" power metal) and carrying a lot of emotion. Cry Thunder is another unique track, which is even slower (another surprise) and has the upbeat feel of a battle anthem that would be played as vikings sail on to a new quest. Wings of Liberty, the longest track, opens and closes with a piano and soft vocals before erupting into that DragonForce speed. Either than that, not much has changed in terms of song structures. They are still fast and frantic (most notably with the song Fallen World), which is what will please the fans. But perhaps the reason that these changes are so noticeable is because of the album's biggest change: new singer Marc Hudson.

Hudson was chosen out of the thousand of Youtube hopefuls with his rendition of Last Journey Home. I remember seeing his video and noting that even though he had a noticeably lower range that ZP, he still contained tons of energy and was more than capable of hitting the high notes. Hudson has a more natural sounding tenor but delivers some picture perfect screams, most notable at the beginning of opening track Holding On. It's Hudson's voice that really give the impression that DragonForce has undergone a drastic change and really captures emotion more than Theart could. Yes, he still does plenty of rapid-fire fantasy verses, but solos aside, you would think you weren't even listening to DragonForce.

Other than shorter songs and a new lead singer, very little has changed when it comes to DragonForce. Solos, fantasy lyrics, and finger-burning riffing abound. And yet, it is because of those small changes that truly makes this the band's most unique and perhaps best outing. Marc Hudson is the one who makes this album different than anything DragonForce has done before, because if you replace a musician in a genre like power metal, usually one doesn't notice many differences in sound. But replacing a singer, even if their voices have similarities, always creates opportunities for change and creativity, even if you are DragonForce.

I think Sam wishes he were still in Power Quest - 70%

Khat57, April 21st, 2012

There are many bands with about as many devout followers as they do avid haters. Dream Theater, Opeth... DragonForce would be on this list, but they seem to have WAY more haters than they do followers. I personally think they're very misunderstood. Yeah, their lyrics are doofy, Sam and Herman can't write a riff worth a shit, there can be a bit too much emphasis on speed, and many of their songs do sound same-y. Regardless, they're still one of my favorite bands because of their energy and relentlessly catchy hooks. Well, things were shaken up a bit back in 2010 when ZP Theart, the singer, left DragonForce due to "insurmountable musical differences" (or lack thereof between albums? Zing! Hey, I like DragonForce, but that doesn't mean they're safe from zingers). DragonForce had changed bassist and drummers during their formation (but let's face it, bass and drums are easily replaceable in power metal) but losing ZP meant an inevitable stylistic change once DragonForce got the ball rolling again. Right?

Well, yes and no. The lyrics are still doofy, Sam and Herman still can't write a riff worth a shit, there's still a bit too much emphasis on speed (but much less this time around, thank God), and the songs are still same-y (but moreso this time around... uh-oh). But there are several major differences that separate this album from other DragonForce albums. The first is the song lengths. Look at this shit! Most are around and even under 5 minutes (!!!) with only one over 7. Anyone who knows DragonForce knows that most of their songs ride around the 7 minute average with 3 or 4 minute twin solos filling up most of the void. One would think this means more emphasis on songwriting, but as I said above, the lyrics still suck. The songs also seem to lose the instant memorability of its predecessors. I struggle to remember anything besides the two singles, "Cry Thunder" and "Fallen World." Part of the reason, I think, is because the new vocalist Marc Hudson doesn't have a wide vocal range. He's got energy and a knack for melody, sure, but his talent (and power) is somewhat lacking. I can sense great potential in him, though. With some more vocal training, he could be a dead ringer for Power Quest's Alessio Gravello and he won't need the entire fucking band doing back-up vox the entire time in a feeble attempt to make his voice seem more powerful.

Speaking of Power Quest... One of the other big problems I have with the album is that a lot of it sounds like "Wings of Forever" which as you may know was the only Power Quest album guitarist Sam Totman performed on. Yeah, a lot of it sounds like rejected songs from that album, but with more polished production and more emphasis on guitarwork. The songs revolve less around battles and warriors and more around glory and hearts and freedom and crap like that. Yeah, songs about battles are still there ("Die By The Sword...." Slayer, anyone?) but many revert back to the lyrical themes of early Power Quest. Power Quest can do it, DragonForce just can't. Marc Hudson's vocals don't help dispute this, either.

All in all, it's the same old DragonForce, just not as good. It's certainly not going to turn many haters, and it seems like DragonForce were rushing to put an album out since it had been 4 years since the rather stellar "Ultra Beatdown. New vocalist Marc Hudson also doesn't have the staying power of ZP Theart. There are still a few good cuts here and there, but not as many as albums past. Still worth it for the few DragonForce fans that are out there, though, just don't expect a "Valley of the Damned" or "Sonic Firestorm."