Holycrapthisstuffisfast. Extreme power metal, anyone?
When DragonForce, an international corps of metal mavens based in the United Kingdom, released its 2003 debut, Valley of the Damned, headbangers discovered a band that actually played faster than Rhapsody. And on the DragonForce's second album, Sonic Firestorm, the six-piece outfit takes its aural assault to the next level, meshing speed, melody and finesse into one big blur.
Consider this: Despite a big AOR-inspired "whoa-whoa-whoa" denouement, album-opener "My Spirit Will Go On" is fast, but compared to the next song, "Fury of the Storm," it's almost a damn ballad. The song after that, "Fields of Despair," at least maintains the pace of its predecessor, with British drummer David Mackintosh no doubt suffering a bout of whiplash keeping time on that one. Dual guitars and keyboards dominate, performing a majestic sonic dance that seldom relents.
And so it goes, across eight songs and nearly one hour. All of them clock in at longer than five minutes, and the bombastic, Eastern-tinged "Soldiers of the Wasteland" pushes the 10-minute mark but hints at the band's deeper creativity. And the powerful ballad "Dawn Over a New World," which comes smack-dab in the middle of Sonic Firestorm and is such sweet relief, showcases the band's softer side (which is just dying to get out) and reveals South African ZP Theart as a sensitive and emotive singer. Still, by the end of this barrage, you're numb. That's not to say Sonic Firestorm is a bad album; in fact, DragonForce probably has chops to spare. And it's got one of the best producers around in Threshold guitarist Karl Groom, who produced both Valley of the Damned and Sonic Firestorm. That's why, if these guys would diversify their sound a bit more, they could appeal to a far broader range of metal fans.
1) My Spirit Will Go On (7:53)
2) Fury of the Storm (6:45)
3) Fields of Despair (5:22)
4) Dawn Over a New World (5:10)
5) Above the Winter Moonlight (7:28)
6) Soldiers of the Wasteland (9:46)
7) Prepare for War (6:13)
8) Once in a Lifetime (7:45)
Total Time: 56:38