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Probably their best yet! - 95%

Vegetarian_Cannibal, June 6th, 2010

The infamous DragonForce. The band that is known for “only getting fans because of Guitar Hero,” for having songs that “all sound the same,” for being the band that “can’t play live,” for having “cheesy, repetitive lyrics that make no sense,” and, overall, just being “not metal.” I disagree with most of the talk surrounding DragonForce. Yes, I did get into them through Guitar Hero, but how else was this band supposed to get known? It’s not their fault that the radio in America plays no metal but Metallica. Besides, they didn’t ask to be put in Guitar Hero; Guitar Hero came to them. Their songs really don’t sound the same. You just have to listen to the album a few times, and they certainly aren’t the only band like that. I have never seen them live, but I’ve seen videos of them live, and it looks like they can hit every note. Supposedly, they were just bad on their Inhuman Rampage tour because of technical difficulties. As far as the lyrics are concerned, they are pretty cheesy. However, that’s not a bad thing necessarily. It’s nice when the lyrics mean something, but I’m not going to turn down a good band just because the lyrics are cheesy. At least they aren’t going on about how you should worship Satan. And as far as not being metal goes, a lot of people who say that are just listening to Slipknot and Avenged Sevenfold, so I choose to ignore them. I think that they are just as metal as any other power metal band.

What makes DragonForce stand out is that they push their music to the extreme. They are not your average power metal band, as you probably already know. They focus on extreme speed. Their guitar work may not be that complex or have that much variety, but I don’t think that’s what they were ever aiming to do in the first place. They just want fast, furious, constant shredding, which I think is cool. Their singer, ZP Theart, had a pretty good voice. He recently left the band, but honestly I don’t think he should be that difficult to replace. The choruses that DragonForce writes are always really catchy, like with most power metal bands. Some people act like people only like DragonForce for the guitars, but for me it’s the parts with vocals that I enjoy the most. The solos are usually pretty awesome, but can sometimes get long.

So, what’s special about Ultra Beatdown? Well, for one thing, every song, save for the bonus track “Strike of the Ninja,” has at least one section where it suddenly gets slow and melodious. These sections are usually really cool, and help add to the variety that they sound like they were shooting for on this album. I think that most of the songs on this album are pretty unique in their sound. Also, each individual song changes a lot. The single “Heroes of Our Time” has a chorus, but everything else in the song seems random because it just keeps changing. “The Last Journey Home” and “Inside the Winter Storm” are also like that. Overall, I think that most of the songs here are just better than on their other albums. That might just be some sort of mental bias thing, but I don’t think so. The only song that’s somewhat weak is “Heartbreak Armageddon.” The ballad “A Flame for Freedom” is really beautiful. It may not be as good as “Starfire” or “Dawn over a New World,” but it’s still good. I’ve always loved DragonForce’s ballads.

You may be wondering whether it’s worth it to buy the bonus track version. I know most reviews of any album will say that you should, but this time it is completely necessary. The two bonus tracks are two of DragonForce’s best songs they’ve ever written. “Strike of the Ninja” is a remake of a song by Sam Totman’s side project, Shadow Warriors. Shadow Warriors must have been a pretty sick project, because this may be my favorite DragonForce song. It’s only about three minutes long, but the chorus is simply incredible. So are the verses, really. It does start to get old after a while. This isn’t a Sonata Arctica song. However, it is still fun to listen to even after you’ve heard it 50 times. It’s just a really cheesy, but really fun song. “Scars of Yesterday” is also an incredible song. It starts out with some relatively heavy guitar riffs, and then after a little while it sounds more like your average DragonForce song, but at the same time, it sounds completely unique. It’s a very powerful song and, as usual, has an amazing chorus. If you want to spend a lot of money, you could get the Japanese version of the album. This version includes the bonus track E.P.M. I don’t have it, but I’ve listened to it on Youtube. It’s another fantastic song, with some really catchy guitar riffs. Maybe some day, they’ll re-release this album with the bonus track, like they recently did with their first two albums.

Overall, I think that this is probably DragonForce’s best album yet. I’m glad that Guitar Hero introduced me to this band, because in the end, this is the band that got me into power metal. I can only hope that their new singer will be a good replacement for ZP, and so their future material will be as good or better. If I had to choose highlights from this album, I would say that “Heroes of Our Time” and the two bonus tracks are the best songs. If you don’t want to buy the full album, at least buy those songs from iTunes or somewhere. Long live DragonForce!