earMusic [Release date 19.05.17]
This is the seventh studio album from Dragonforce and a bit like AC/DC or Status Quo you should know what to expect from a DF album by now. This release however does throw a few curved balls into the usual melodic metal maelstrom and is all the better for it, this is Dragonforce with added thrash!
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. I was witness to Gee’s first DF outing a couple of years ago in Edinburgh where he was a nervous wreck but listening to his drumming on the album you can tell he is now an integral part of the band.
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.
During the band’s break between the last tour and the recording of this album, bass player Frederic LeClercq released an album with his side thrash metal project Sinsaenum which obviously had an influence on his writing for ‘Infinity’. With the track ’War!’ Dragonforce go for the throat with an all-out thrash masterpiece. On hearing the track my wife asked if it was Anthrax which is an easy mistake to make, this song could have easily been on the ‘Thrax classic ‘Spreading The Disease’.
The other surprising track is the 10 minute epic ‘Edge Of The World’. If ‘War!’ was DF’s take on Anthrax then this track is their homage to the best that Iron Maiden has to offer. The track starts off slowly before building to a huge middle section complete with Anzalone in full artillery mode, firing off the double bass drum volleys in devastating fashion, and some full on death metal vocals. I am hoping that the heavier tracks are part of the future plans for Dragonforce as they add a new dimension to the band’s sound.
‘Our Final Stand’ rounds off the album, which again is classic Dragonforce. However I would urge you to track down the special edition release of the album which has a further two tracks that are well worth a listen. ‘Hatred And Revenge’ is a power metal classic with a great central riff, whilst ‘Evil Dead’ is another thrash affair, this time more in the Kreator mode, fast, furious and fantastic.
Dragonforce continue to go from strength to strength and with the heavier thrash tracks creeping in they are sounding better than ever. The guys are touring later in the year and hopefully both ‘War!’ and ‘Evil Dead’ will make it into the set, best start training for those circle pits now… *****
Review by Dave Wilson
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MAGNUM Sleepwalking (1992)
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