Friday 23 June 2017

Album Review: DRAGONFORCE - Reaching Into Infinity

DragonForce - Reaching Into Infinity

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 (Bonus Track)
13. Hatred and Revenge (Bonus Track)
14. Evil Dead (Death Cover) (Bonus Track)

I first heard DragonForce back when they were called DragonHeart and were supporting Rob Halford's imaginatively titled new band Halford on the tour for his first solo album. I quite enjoyed DragonHeart's set, and recall them changing their name to DragonForce a couple of years later and releasing their first record Valley of the Damned. On paper, they should have been a band I'd enjoy but to be honest, I've never really liked their recorded work. I openly admit that they've always been incredible musicians and can play intricate pieces at the speed of light with the precision of a top surgeon, but that's never been enough for me. Ultra-complex playing will always appeal to an army of 'musos' and 'Metal anoraks' but for a band to float my boat, they need the songs to match. That's the main issue I've always had with DragonForce - they've always sounded so twee.

I'm not sure what made me decide to give them another go. Maybe it was subliminal advertising, or perhaps the abundance of Power Metal I've been listening to recently (the amazing new Battle Beast album is to thank for that- review here)? Anyway, Reaching Into Infinity is the band's seventh album, and the third with lead singer Marc Hudson, who I prefer to his predecessor ZP Theart, as Marc's voice has a little more 'roar'. ZP Theart is currently recording with the dead horse that is Skid Row, and has now formally joined that circus. Anyway, back to DragonForce.

Aside from the vocals, it's pretty much the same as the other albums. Every trademark sound you'd expect from DragonForce is present and accounted for. The jaw-dropping lead guitar gymnastics from Herman Li and Sam Totman are there. The painfully overused double kicks are there too, clicking away mercilessly, overpowering the songs. However, they do deviate from their signature sound on a few brief occasions, for example during the power-ballad Silence and during sections of the epic The Edge Of The World, the latter being my favourite song on the album by a country mile. It's worth noting that on the deluxe edition, there's a cover of Death's Evil Dead that is nothing short of brilliant. It's always nice to acquire an unexpected gem.

Reaching Into Infinity may be arguably pushing a few boundaries by DragonForce's standards, but to my ears they lack the diversity and dynamics of other Power Metal acts such as Wintersun and Stratovarius. I'm sure existing fans will be delighted by this new album, but if like me, you were struggling to get into them before, you're unlikely to be won over by this new record.  


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