Even though I am not the biggest fan of Power Metal, I must admit that DRAGONFORCE has always impressed me and after the very successful previous album, “Sonic Firestorm”, I was very eager to hear what the band would come up with next. True to form they didn’t disappoint.
One thing that immediately struck me was the length of the songs – there is not a single song on here that clocks in at under 5 minutes – instead we are treated to long, intricate songs that are all within the 7 to 8 minute mark. Apart from that, all the DRAGONFORCE trademarks are here: the soaring vocals, the overly self-indulgent guitar playing, melodic keyboards and the can-it-possibly-be-any-faster drumming.
The album kicks off with the brilliant “Through The Fire And Flames” and I can guarantee you that the chorus will be stuck in your head for weeks after just one listen. The same can basically be said of all the other tracks, with the exception of “Body Breakdown” a quite silly track with weird keyboard effects and a very unmemorable flow and chorus. Things pick up again with “Cry For Eternity” however and it is a total scorcher – the opening riffs and drum pattern reminds me of latter era Bathory (RIP). The album closes off with the obligatory Power Metal ballad, “Trail Of Broken Hearts” and against all my expectations it isn’t the cheesy, sappy affair that I thought it would be! The keys mesh really well with the other instruments on this track and the vocals of ZP Theart are as impressive as always and the whole track never becomes too over the top. Great way to end off the album if you ask me…
I must say that this album didn’t grab me right away as the band’s previous two offerings, but after repeated listens, I can proudly declare this album yet another triumph. The songs are way more technical and intricate than ever before and played at even more insane speeds (they are currently faster than even most grind and BM bands!!!) and even at 8 minutes these tracks never became repetitive and boring. I surely can’t say the same of most other Power Metal bands out there.
So, all in all, I think that this is some of the band’s best work and it really is a shining example of what a mature Power Metal album can and should sound like (calling PM mature is bit ironical I know, but not where these guys are concerned!!).
Hell, it’s only January but I already have a contender for album of the year!!
PS – try to get the limited enhanced version of the CD; it contains a 15 minute Rockumentary of the band as well as a Desktop Theme and screensaver. (Online March 5, 2006)