Album: The Power Within
Release Date: 15/04/2012
Genre: Extreme Power Metal
Label: Electric Generation Recordings
This Review is dedicated to the memory of Vadim Pruzhanov’s Hair. RIP.
It’s been 4 years since the release of the last Dragonforce album, “Ultra Beatdown”, shortly after which singer ZP Theart left. It’s been a fairly brutal 4 years for the London-based Extreme Power Metallers; a new album in the works, a GARGANTUAN world tour freshly completed, and the singer, beloved of the fans, is gone? Surely, a bell tolling death for most bands? Not Dragonforce. Since footage of “Cry Thunder” was leaked, having been filmed by fans watching the band support Iron Maiden, I have been far more than enthralled. As for new singer Marc Hudson, I could hug the man. He is everything ZP was and more, and his entrance has injected huge amounts of life into the band once more. The songs are far more varied in structure, and thus make for a much more enjoyable listen, but every single one still manages to soar to the octane-guzzling heights of Glory of previous albums.
“The Power Within.” There could not be a more appropriate title. The whole album is overflowing with POWER. Herman Li and Sam Totman’s epic guitar shreddery is prominent in everything the band does, their mastery being an album’s worth of an air guitarist’s wet dreams. Drums are utterly insane; while restrained on tracks like “Cry Thunder”, the 220 bpm monster of “Fallen world” (fun fact: Dragonforce’s fastest ever song, beating “Cry of the Brave” at 215 bpm) shows off Dave MacKintosh’s insane skill. There are even a couple of moments where Bassist Fred Leclerq gets to show off his talent in several extreme bass passages. And one Mr Vadim Pruzhanov (God rest his hair) is one of the greatest musicians to ever mangle a keyboard. Wizardry is the only way to describe it. But Marc Hudson’s vocals are ridiculously good – he far surpasses the expectations of any of the fans, many of who would, in normal circumstances, be winging and pining for ZP. He has stupendous amounts of talent, and with layered vocals, he sounds positively majestic.
One of the main criticisms of Dragonforce with regards to previous works was that “all the songs sound the same.” It was often insisted that they relied purely on technical ability to make interesting songs, and that was included in every song. This is not a criticism that has any grounds on this album – the songs have for the most part been shortened to be more digestible by the listener (most previous songs were around the 7 minute mark), and not every song is a hyper-speed blast to the end. “Seasons”, “Last Man Stands” and “Cry Thunder” are all fairly different to the usual Dragonforce way, but in no way unwelcome. Songs like “Die by the Sword” also mark a return to the Lyrical style of fantasy, swords and battles, not seen truly since 2003’s “Valley of the Damned.”
This album… blew me away in a way I’m quite sure most of the albums released this year will fail to do so. All the apprehension is gone, and we should welcome the new Dragonforce with open arms. Utterly, utterly stunning, utterly, utterly brilliant.
Alasdair Dunn of Norderobring