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Enjoyable, but somehow lacking - 65%

The Clansman 95, June 3rd, 2018

Ultra Beatdown is the fourth album by English power metal band DragonForce. When it was released, it was an instant success. Propelled by succesful single "Heroes of Our Time" (one of the highlights of the record), the album debuted at the 18th position in the Billboard 200, selling 24.000 copies in the US during the first week following its release. The album also went gold in the UK.

Ultra Beatdown isn't very different compared to the band's previous album, "Inhuman Rampage". It's brisk, entertaining and energetic. The songs are very fast, they feature multiple complex guitar solos, lightspeed-fast guitar harmonies, cheesy lyrics, catchy choruses and melodies, and plenty of blast beats. The band experimented further with the keyboard sound, and this resulted in a series of strange videogame-like noises (the intro of "Reasons to Live" is a good example). Although it's good to see the band experimenting with its sound, I have to say that the result is often pretty odd. One thing that distinguishes "Ultra Beatdown" from "Inhuman Rampage" is the presence of some mid and slow-tempo sections, that prevent the songs from becoming monotonous. On the other hand, almost all the songs still pass the 7 minutes mark, making the album a tough listen if you're not used to the genre, and they often have a similar structure, a problem also found in "Inhuman Rampage".

Album highlights include the opener "Heroes of Our Time", one of the band's most famous songs, which features a thrilling solo section and an amazingly catchy chorus, the eight-minutes epic "The Fire Still Burns", "Reasons to Live", which includes an interesting tango-like midsection, and "The Last Journey Home" (the album's second single, and its longest track), which is the first mid-tempo song from the band that isn't actually a power ballad (and it's also my favourite song from the record).

The special edition features two bonus tracks, but they are quite average; same goes for the Japanese edition bonus track "E.P.M.", whose intro reminds me of some videogame from the 80s.

"Ultra Beatdown" shows little progression from the band's previous albums, and it does have some flaws; however, if you like DragonForce, or power metal in general, it will make an enjoyable listen.