Yes, there still is real Metal coming out from the often so trend soaked countries of the United Kingdom. Some of you might still know these five guys as DRAGONHEART, with a quite widely acclaimed 5 track MCD, but to avoid any confusion with bands, labels and companies they decided to change their name to DRAGONFORCE.
The band is pretty damn international, with the members hailing from England, Hong Kong, South Africa, France and the Ukraine, but officially they are English... Anyways, musically DRAGONFORCE are as unusual as it gets for a new British act at the moment, combining elements of Power, Speed and some light Progressive Metal into a sound that still has an own touch to it.
Now the question you'll ask is how they manage that, hm? Well, for one the quite high, but still very distinct voice of ZP Theart (he's the English guy, having lived in New Zealand for a while, so even more international!), secondly the mostly high to very high speed of the compositions (minus the ballad "Starfire", of course) and then also the technical proficiency of the performance of the quintet that, judging from the line up stated in the info sheet, does not even have a bassist in their ranks.
Like mentioned, DRAGONFORCE prefer a higher tempo, but still do not get on your nerves in a way you might fear, because they have a very good hand for good melodies and flowing arrangements, plus calmer breakdowns for a good measure to keep things interesting. The songs themselves are mostly on the upside, like the title track, "Black Winter Night" or "Evening Star".
Despite the high level for a debut not the whole 51 minutes can keep that up, so I can't attest them an all out outstanding debut effort, but "only" a really good one that does not sound like your every day, run of the mill Power Metal and now I finally also remember which band the drum style and riffing reminds me of: MANTICORA! Not that they are soundalikes, but you get what I mean (I hope)...
So if you do not like Power Metal and that, circle DRAGONFORCE widely, for they won't win you over, but if you normally have a certain affinity to these sounds, you should check out "Valley Of The Damned". (Online February 20, 2003)