Fourth album now and even more video game sounding guitar wankery from Herman and the boys. These guys must consume some amount of caffeine to continually play at this pace. To be honest it’s wearing thin.
Frankly the album title alone will be enough to put you off as will the absurd cover it’s only missing an XBOX or SONY sticker to really drive home the point but what you’ve come to expect from DRAGONFORCE isn’t for one second diluted as they charge head over heels through ‘’Ultra Beatdown’’, trying to prove that playing at light speed is the only way for their message to get across.
Still this is glorious robust if somewhat redoubt Heavy Metal. There aren’t many bands like DRAGONFORCE (that’s not necessarily a compliment) but there comes a time when they will have to rein back the speed, the power, the incessant double bass drumming and guitar solos that surely must be the most ludicrously brilliant in the cosmos and the balls-caught-in-a-vice carry-on style vocals.
It is beginning to sound all too similar. I’ve raved in the past but ‘’Ultra Beatdown’’ is nothing compared to ‘’Sonic Firestorm’’ or ‘’Inhuman Rampage’’. Nothing has changed since, there’s evidently no room for expansion in the DRAGONFORCE universe and it’s not looking like changing for the future. The songs are massively over produced and fuck aren’t they on for a long time. Lemmy could have written, produced and toured three new albums by the time track three bolted from the speakers.
This isn’t easy listening by any stretch. Any of these tracks could sit on previous albums such is the analogous nature of the songs. Sure they’ve added a couple of ballads, perhaps loosed the tempo ever-so-slightly over a couple of songs but they over playing is still there and none so much as on the quite farcical ‘’Reason To Live’’. The song blares, runs, stops, starts, has a very strange Proggy middle, more fast bits, more slow bits and ends with a crap piano. I ain’t finished yet though. ‘’The Last Journey Home’’ at least injects a slight if only temporary difference to all the wailing but it all comes crashing down on the awful ‘’A Flame For Freedom’’. I guess not written for the Olympic Torch journey across the world this ballad sucks like something JOURNEY or KANSAS would do. Except you’ve got Super Mario belting away on the guitar as if Wario was right up his ass. Yes it is that bad. And corny.
Rushing head long down in to a dead end, ‘’Ultra Beatdown’’ is not the best album DRAGONFORCE has recorded nor is it an album UK Metal will laud and herald. Their best aim is another song on Guitar Hero which at least is enjoyable to play and to listen to.
(Online September 23, 2008)