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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.