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Glorious! Forever more in us! - 90%

Wra1th1s, August 26th, 2008

You know that old proverb, "never judge a book by its cover?" Yeah, well it goes double for this. You must literally tear yourself away from the laughable cover and the cheesy name (I believe it's from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.) If any of you didn't like Inhuman Rampage then I have very good news, Ultra Beatdown is more varied while remaining unmistakably Dragonforce. They throw in some slow parts and one song (not counting the ballad of course,) isn't even fast. In fact, ZP and Vadim is more often than not the focus of the songs!

Opening with the utterly magnificent "Heroes of Our Time," this is essentially Through the Fire and Flames but with more variety and the breakdown end part. My favorite part is the "Glorious!/Forever more in us!" bit where Dave "Compact Dynamo" Mackintosh does those 'too-fast-my-ass' bass drum rolls. I just crack a shit-eating grin whenever I listen to that. The solos are, of course, spectacularly played especially Herman's little Hot Hands (or whatever the hell it's called,) trick and the final harmony leads.The ending is a fuckin' singalong, I double dog dare you to not sing it!

The following songs showcase the band's newfound variety. "The Fire Still Burns" has a ridiculously infectious chorus and ZP is singing ridiculously high without going falsetto (that "Darkened days goes by" bit.) I didn't like the bridge though, I felt they could've done without that echo. "Reasons to Live" opens with a keyboard melody and blastbeats with whammy mania before getting down to business. Actually, the song isn't really fast (although the chorus remains infectious,) and the solos are NOT played at 270 bpm. I liked this, it shows that they can do more than shred. Alright, there is a sweep-tastic part towards the end but it totally fits the context. Oh yeah, "Heartbreak Armageddon" has an actual riff! Along with another slow solo part.

"The Last Journey Home" is the slow song I'm talking about. Well it's only slow if you compare it to their usual stuff. I guess when they mean slow it's still pretty damn fast. This song feels more serious than the others and it just may be their best non-VotD song. Sure the lyrics aren't serious but ZP delivers them in such a way, it actually sounds emotional!

Skipping the ballad (which is okay but doesn't really top "Starfire,") the last two songs are good, but they couldn't follow up "The Last Journey Home" in my opinion. "Inside the Winter Storm" brings the speed up again and they throw in another riff and "The Warrior Inside" is impossibly upbeat. Those of you who can't take flower metal then skip the last song.

The production is an improvement over Inhuman Rampage and Sonic Firestorm. It's not completely sterile and I daresay that it's a good idea that they brought ZP and Vadim to the fore. On occassion you can hear Frederic but he's still kinda buried by Dave, Herman and Sam. As you may have guessed, Sam's songwriting has considerably improved. Hell even Vadim's compositions are much better. One warning, it is more videogame influenced than the previous albums so stay away if you're a game-ophobe. The solos (all 50 of 'em,) are fantastic and it's sure to please even the most gloomy of metalheads.

My disc has three extra tracks (odd since Indonesia hasn't been Japanese since '45) and "Strike of the Ninja" is the shortest song Dragonforce has done, clocking in at 3:17.The chorus sounds rather 80s glam but I like it. "Scars of Yesterday" could've easily been on the album but it doesn't really stand out, "E.P.M."on the other hand should be mandatory on all releases! This is where Vadim REALLY shows his shit, it's also the most videogame sounding song on this album.

While Ultra Beatdown may not dethrone Valley of the Damned as my favorite Dragonforce album (and favorite PM album,) it easily matches Sonic Firestorm in certain places and beats the shit out of Inhuman Rampage. I highly recommend buying the Japanese edition.