DragonForce have a new album due out on the 19th of May called Reaching into Infinity. The English (in origin) power metal band have released a new single from that album called Judgement Day. Reaching into Infinity will be released via earMusic and will be the band’s 7th studio album overall. It will be the band’s 3rd studio album since long time vocalist ZP Theart left to join Skid Row and was replaced by Marc Hudson.
DragonForce formed in 1999 and only 2 of the original members now remain in guitarists Herman Li and Sam Totman. They, and Marc, are joined by Vadim Pruzhanov who looks after keys, synth, keytar and backing vocals. On drums we have Gee Anzalone and on bass it is Frédéric Leclercq (also guitarist for death metal group Sinsaenum).
I have never been too big a fan of DragonForce. I didn’t dislike them. There were a fair few early songs I liked a lot but most of their music sounded a bit too samey for me. Also, while I totally appreciate the technical skill on show with the blazing guitar solos, often it sounded like they lacked emotion and passion. Instead they seemed purely focused on speed and “showing off”.
Some of the songs, Through the Fire and the Flames or Revolution Deathsquad, managed to do the opposite. They packed skill and speed with passion and fire but not enough of them did for me.
So, with me completely out of the loop on what current day DragonForce sound like, on to Judgement Day.
Judgement Day is over 6 minutes long and I am surprised to hear, and a little disappointed, that they sound almost exactly the same as I remember. Starting with an intro made up of just synth and effects isn’t the greatest introduction for me. It gives it the feel of a terrible Ibiza dance track. That goes on for the best part of a minute before it starts to fade and rip roaring drums and blazing guitars jump in and thankfully take over.
The music is furiously fast and high toned and while there is a new vocalist, he sounds like a straight replacement for the old one. Marc sings at speed and sounds decent. He also hits plenty of high notes. The verses are fast and lead into equally speedy choruses. Everything is separated by blisteringly fast and technical guitar work. Despite me being impressed with how skilled Herman and Sam are though, it doesn’t really grab you. It doesn’t pull you along waves of emotion. It just sounds fast.
Maybe that is enough, I don’t know, for me it just sounds lacking something. About the half way mark, the song slows down. The slower riff sounds really cool and promising but instead breaks into a keyboard and synth solo with guitar backing and I don’t like this at all. It does eventually lead into more soloing which, rather than sound like one big long solo, sounds like many small ones linked together. Some I like, some, are clever, some are just fast.
As the song reaches the close it slows down into an epic, power metal section with soaring vocals and slower, swooping guitar lines. A sound that is welcome and does pull you in completely.
Judgement Day is probably going to please long term admirers of DragonForce. For those on the fence like myself? It doesn’t really offer anything new and appealing. There is no doubt the band are talented. The guitarists skills are unquestionable and the drumming is consistently good. The bass is there but often swallowed by the higher toned guitars and over use of synth. The vocalist is strong and capable, basically, there is a lot to admire with this band.
When it comes to that most basic of things – how you feel while listening, I am impressed by their skills but just feel like the song is missing something. Some bit of feeling or emotion or something to elevate it to from a good, but typical DragonForce song to something special.
If you are a fan, or you like their old stuff, you may love this though as, well, it sounds very similar.
Check out Judgement Day for yourself here. You can preorder Reaching into Infinity from here. Be sure to check the band out on Facebook and Twitter as well. Make sure you give them a like or follow to keep up to date with news from the band.
The Final Score - 6/10