By their seventh album "Reaching Into Infinity" to be released next Friday, you’d be forgiven for expecting DRAGONFORCE to settle into a middle-aged rut, enthusiastically chasing their own tail for a diminishing audience of insatiable fanatics strumming plastic swords like air guitars.
If there were any hints of that fate on 2014’s aptly titled Maximum Overload, on this follow-up Dragonforce have found a new lease of life, and fresh boosts of passion and exuberance, thanks mostly to their own strenuous efforts to remain a distinctive and audacious world-class metal phenomenon.
The melodies are more assertive, the arrangements breathlessly wired and shot through with multiple distractions, but they have a stronger, more organic flow as unlikely disparate elements bang together to produce sparks.
Things start of in familiar territory with ‘Ashes Of The Dawn’ which contains all the usual Dragonforce signatures, blistering guitar work, soaring vocals and a thunderous rhythm section combined with glorious melodies. ‘Judgement Day’ keeps up the pace with more virtuoso guitar work courtesy of Herman Li and Sam Totman, the guys never fail to impress and the fact that they make it look so easy live is a thing of wonder.
This is the first recorded outing for new drummer Gee Anzalone and he is clearly the right man for the job.
The music continues apace with ‘Astral Empire’ and ‘Curse Of Darkness’ flashing by in a hail of rapid fire riffs. The pace then slows a little for ‘Silence’, a Dragonforce power ballad of the first degree with a fantastic vocal from Marc Hudson.
‘Midnight Madness’ takes you firmly back into the fast lane with a cracking melody flowing through the song before the first real surprise of the record.
With the track ’War!’ Dragonforce go for the throat with an all-out metal stab, dispalying a sound never heard before in Dragonforce.
The other surprising track is the 10 minute epic ‘Edge Of The World’. It's like a homage to the best that Iron Maiden has to offer, and the NWOBHM in general. The track starts off slowly before building to a huge middle section complete with Anzalone's drumming in full artillery mode, firing off the double bass drum volleys in devastating fashion alongside the melodic ballads. Killer track.
‘Our Final Stand’ rounds off the album, which again is classic Dragonforce.
This already released Japanese Edition includes the exclusive bonus track 'Gloria', another curious side of this 'new' Dragonforce.
It's a cover of a song from a popular '80s Japanese band named Ziggy, originally a pop-rock song, and in the hands of Dragonforce turned into a classic metal sounding tune, plenty of melody and catchiness.
I never liked this band, honestly. But since the addition of singer Marc Hudson (this is the third record with them) plus some musical twists lately, Dragonforce continue to go from strength to strength.
Again, this is varied album from the classic power, epic metal, to a more melodic side influenced by classic, traditional metal, NWOBHM, etc, bringing a welcomed 'new' sound to this British band.
And I like what I hear.
01 - Reaching into Infinity
02 - Ashes of the Dawn
03 - Judgement Day
04 - Astral Empire
05 - Curse of Darkness
06 - Silence
07 - Midnight Madness
08 - WAR!
09 - Land of Shattered Dreams
10 - The Edge of the World
11 - Our Final Stand
12 - Gloria [Japan bonus track]
Marc Hudson – lead vocals, backing vocals
Herman Li – guitars, backing vocals
Sam Totman – guitars, backing vocals
Vadim Pruzhanov – keyboards, piano, backing vocals
Frédéric Leclercq – bass guitar, backing vocals
Gee Anzalone – drums
BUY IT !