Thursday, April 11, 2013
Metal Review: Dragonforce - "The Power Within"
There's little to dispute the notion that "Through The Fire And Flames" is a modern day metal classic. But you could easily be forgiven for not caring about the rest of Dragonforce's output. Until now. If you have even the slightest appreciation for melodic metal then run, do not walk, to your nearest record shop (okay, fine, go to iTunes) and pick up their newest album, "The Power Within". Right now. Just go.
Perhaps ex-vocalist ZP Theart was holding them back. Then again maybe the band just felt they had something to prove after such a major line-up change. Theart was a fine singer. His replacement Marc Hudson is incredible. He announces his presence with a full on power metal scream at the start of "Holding On" that Theart could only dream of. For the first time the vocal melodies are the main attraction, rather than just a thing you wade through to get to the guitar solo.
It's refreshing to realize that you can write songs shorter than eight minutes. This stuff is really efficiently written with little wasted time. Even cooler than that, most of these songs are actually about something, not just random gibberish strung into sentences. True, the band's themes haven't changed: it's mostly inspirational stuff about standing strong through adversity. "Fallen World" and "Last Man Stands" both sing the praises of humanity struggling to survive after an apocalypse, and have the most clearly "Dragonforcy" lyrics on the album.
Meanwhile, "Seasons" is slightly melancholy, with a gentle vocal line reflecting on the passage of time. "Cry Freedom" is a Manowar-esque anthem sure to get drunken crowds swaying. "Die by the Sword" even edges towards thrash metal with an aggressive stance I haven't heard from these guys before. That's probably the most impressively structured track on the record, with more ideas crammed into four minutes than in any of the band's other songs.
This new-found songwriting ability, combined with the more accomplished, emotive vocals have elevated Dragonforce to the top of my power metal pantheon. I've been listening to this record for about a month now and it only gets better. And until Lost Horizon manages to reunite, I think Dragonforce's title will be a hard one for anyone to reclaim.