Dragonforce

The Power Within

Written by: PP on 02/04/2012 17:06:19

The success and subsequent demise of the Guitar Hero franchise is one of the greatest cautionary tales of milking the same concept to the breaking point. Four years ago you couldn't go to a house party without running into a room full of people enchanted by one of the many games in the franchise, yet today you're hard pressed to find anyone still playing these games even in a private context. We all remember breaking our fingers at trying to crack the impossible Dragonforce song "Through The Fire And Flames" in Guitar Hero III, and marveling at YouTube videos of people teaching others how to beat one of the hardest challenges in modern video game history, which catapulted Dragonforce into unprecedented success far outside of their power metal origins and into mainstream stardom. Unfortunately, they became collateral damage when Guitar Hero simply became uncool a couple of years ago. Today, one is hard pressed to find relevance for a new Dragonforce record, yet here we are with their fifth studio album "The Power Within".

It's a shame that of all possible power metal bands it is Dragonforce that suffered this fate as a band, because as "The Power Within" demonstrates, they are still the best power metal band by a considerably wide margin. Where all their colleagues are busy copy-catting each other in a race to write the most generic power metal album in the history of the genre (one reason why we stopped covering bands in it a long time ago), Dragonforce has always stood as the most interesting and innovative one, if for no other reason than their impossibly technical and breakneck speed guitar solos that bring a new meaning to the word challenging. Full of ridiculously catchy, keyboard-supported melody, "The Power Within" is once again full of tracks which have your jaw glued to the floor more often than not thanks to how guitarists Herman Li and Sam Totman dismantle all your preconceptions of what is possible to do with a guitar and at what speeds.

The focus on the ridiculously intricate melodies is so strong - as it has been in the past - that chances are you won't even notice that the band has changed vocalists: longtime singer ZP Theart was replaced by the unknown Marc Hudson after a year-long search in 2011. While he delivers an excellent performance in his own right, checking all the do's of power metal vocalists starting from extensive vibrato and high-flying glorious choruses, he's simply overshadowed by the importance of guitars (and especially solos) on a Dragonforce album. But credit is given where credit is due: his work on "Cry Thunder" and "Give Me The Night" is exceptional and helps elevate these songs to an even higher status than the guitars are able to. If you're into the classic 80s heavy metal style vocals, this guy can fight evenly with the best, trust me on this one.

One aspect the critics are going to base their attack upon is how "The Power Within" is really an identical album to "Ultra Beatdown" just as that was an identical album to "Inhuman Rampage" and so forth. The guitar tone, the solos, the whole power metal atmosphere hasn't changed one bit since the band's debut album "Valley Of The Damned", but I for one think that's a good thing. You know exactly what you're getting with "The Power Within": ultra technical, jaw-dropping power metal that effortlessly wipes the floor with the competition. Why change a working formula? "The Power Within" is simply a refresh of Dragonforce songs much in the same vein as every new Bad Religion album does not differ much from its predecessor. And though Dragonforce are likely to never obtain the same success as they did during the Guitar Hero-era, "The Power Within" at least re-establishes them as the most important and best band within their own genre.

8

Download: Fallen World, Cry Thunder, Give Me The Night
For the fans of: Blind Guardian, Helloween, Gamma Ray
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Release date 16.04.2012
Essential Music / Roadrunner Records

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