earMUSIC [Release date 27.09.19]
Dragonforce are back with album number eight and it does what it says on the tin. ‘Extreme Power Metal’ has been the band’s weapon of choice since their inception and they still continue to use twenty notes where two would do. This is either seen as a work of genius (my opinion) or complete OTT nonsense (as our News Ed Jason Ritchie believes). Here though the guys temper the all-out fury at times and have come up with some excellent melodic rock which may win over some naysayers.
For this album there has also been a change to their line-up with the departure of long time keyboard player Vadim Pruzhanov. For the recording session the guys were joined by Epica keyboard player Coen Janssen who does a sterling job throughout. It was also announced post the album recording that bass player Frederic Leclercq is leaving the band as well to join Kreator, so come the start of the forthcoming tour it will be quite a different Dragonforce line up that appear on stage.
To the music though and the album gets off to a racing start with ‘Highway To Oblivion’. This is a full-on Dragonforce romp with drummer Gee Anzalone at full throttle. The snappily titled ‘ Cosmic Power Of The Infinite Shred Machine’ follows with, as you would expect with such a title, frantic guitar work from Herman Li and Sam Totman. I also defy anyone who is old enough to remember the Sega Megadrive to listen to the middle section of this song without thinking about Sonic The Hedgehog!
‘The Last Dragonborn’ slows the pace and musically heads us to the Far East with an oriental sounding keyboard line which adds to the atmosphere of the track. ‘Heart Demolition’ is one of the more accessible tracks and it has a great chorus and a soaring vocal from frontman Marc Hudson.
‘Troopers Of The Stars’ takes us back into more familiar Dragonforce territory that will please the old school fans. ‘Razorblade Meltdown’ continues things at a furious pace, again with spellbinding fretwork and great melodies throughout. We are then back into the melodic rock zone with ‘Strangers’ which actually reminds me of FM at times in the chorus, not something I thought I would ever write in a DF review!
Everything is then turned back up to 11 for ‘In A Skyforged Dream’ which is again carried along on a relentless wave of double bass drumming from Gee. The majestic ‘Remembrance Day’ follows. A tribute to the fallen of the Great War this is an epic song which soars from the opening bagpipe-like keyboards to the final bars. This song is destined to be a live favourite with a huge singalong chorus.
The album finishes with a cover track which will no doubt split the crowd. On the Maximum Overdrive album the guys tackled the Johnny Cash classic ‘Ring Of Fire’ which had a very mixed reaction (personally I loved it!). This time the band are pushing the limits further with the Celine Dion classic ‘My Heart Will Go On’, yup, the Titanic one! For me, given the Dragonforce treatment this song is a triumph, great melodies, big chorus, hell, there is even a key change in there, what’s not to like?
Given the line up changes that are going on within the DF ranks at the moment you would forgive the band if the quality of this release was a bit off. However no concessions are required as this is another Dragonforce masterclass. They have added a bit of variety to the mix here as well which may appeal more to non DF fans but there is more than enough here to please the faithful. It will be interesting to see how things pan out with the new members once they are in place but with ‘Extreme Power Metal’ the band have a solid base on which to build the next chapter.
Review by Dave Wilson
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Each week David Randall presents ‘New to GRTR!’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, with the emphasis on independent artists and labels. During December he replays favourite tracks including power plays featured during the year. This show covers the period January-March and was first broadcast on 1 December 2019.
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