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Ridiculously Catchy - 90%

Dark_dude, September 19th, 2008

So, where do I start? Ok, some background. Well, I first got into DragonForce through Sonic Firestorm, and found it completely astoundingly epic. I likewise found Valley Of The Damned great too, but was somewhat thoroughly disappointed with Inhuman Rampage.

Well I have to say, I found this album incredible. I had low hopes for it at first; thought it'd be a ridiculous snorefest like Inhuman Rampage, but after giving it a spin, I couldn't resist coming back for more. Consistent all the way through, and I'm amazed at how they can make something so ridiculously catchy whilst sustaining clearly evident metal foundations. This is just what power metal is all about: metal, epicness, catchy tunes and melodies.

I can't really pull out the stand-out songs; they're all very good, but I guess The Fire Still Burns, Reasons To Live, Heartbreak Armageddon and Inside The Winter Storm are the best in my opinion. All fast paced, up-beat, and more melodic than the others. The ballad, A Flame For Freedom, is seemingly taking a more heavier approach than their past ballads, and the title song, Heroes Of Our Time, sounds exactly like Revolution DeathSquad, so don't judge the album pre-emptively with that song.
Oh, Strike Of The Ninja, I shall point out, is actually a cover of their own material. Demoniac wasn't the only other band of DragonForce, oh no, they had a band called Shadow Warriors, which, out of a potential drunken night, they decided to be ninjas and record 4 songs. One song, Feel The Fire, is what they covered. Just worth noting...

So, what to expect of this album? Well, if you don't care about being tr00, and you like songs with hooks, like power metal and more effectively, their Sonic Firestorm album, you'll love this album. It features basically the same formula as their past albums, except now they seem to be taking a lean into neoclassical/symphonic metal, and have decided that the rejection of the traditional song structure is a way forward. You'll most likely enjoy it. I certainly did.
If you have bashed DragonForce for their past releases being samey, untechnical and "sped-up", then you most probably won't like this at all, end of, so stay away!

Of course, 90% isn't perfect, and I'm not one to evangelise your opinion into liking this. It's a review for piss sake, not free advertising, so I'll go ahead and show the cons.

Firstly, you know how Herman Li is seemingly having that race with Explosions In The Sky about who can whammy more? Well that race is apparently still on. There's almost as much whammy as actual notes in one or two songs on the album for christ sake! Try some other guitar techniques please, Herman!
Secondly, I have to reiterate my point on the neoclassical/symphonic influence. The neoclassical parts are either severely misplaced, as if shoehorned into their songs without purpose, or just seriously hit the shit. The symphonic intro to The Fire Still Burns sounds like they decided to give Tuomas Holopainen a burning handjob or something. The neoclassical middle of Heartbreak Armageddon almost completely brushes over my mind without me realising it transcended to and fro. And the neoclassical middle to Inside The Winter Storm just sounds so misplaced, it's impossible.
Thirdly, what's with the name? A strange thing to pick on, I know, but Ultra Beatdown just sounds like a fail metalcore name. Even Ultimate Flamedeath would've worked better, and that's just saying a lot.

All in all, a great album, just don't get it unless you're certain you fit the parameters it demands. People who downrate due to cheesiness and whatnot fall into the same category as those who rate Sunn O))) down for being too slow - they miss the point entirely.