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DragonForce: Sonic Firestorm

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.

Track Listing:
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

Added: August 6th 2005
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Official DragonForce Web Site
Hits: 4912
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

DragonForce: Sonic Firestorm
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-08-06 21:15:40
My Score:

The band Dragonforce is a very interesting unit indeed. They not only combine the factors of being musically diverse along with a completely technical level of play; but they include a level of speed that at times will make you surely think that your CD is skipping instead of playing. I was literally blown away when I first heard Sonic Firestorm and as you listen yourself you will find that you are in the musical equivalent of a hurricane. Starting off with "My Spirit Will Go On", you are quickly brought into the band's world and what they opt to accomplish on a record. As I said there are blistering fast moments and there are bands that play for the sake of speed sake alone. Not so in the case of Dragonforce, for throughout each song the members never seem to lose pace with one another. The song maintains its structure and does not ever seem to fall apart where you could expect such action to be the case under these conditions. It was really something to close my eyes and envision this being done in a live sense. In most cases playing music fast simply for the sake of it will not impress me all that much so it was refreshing to see this level of speed being showcased on top of killer technical prowess. Chops would be an understatement for Dragonforce.

A lot of the album follows along the same course of speed as the first track, but that does not mean to be taken as the songs sound all alike. They just use the same formula on the entire CD. There is one track that effectively serves as the ballad of the disk and that is "Dawn Over A New World" . The tune is nicely done and being in the middle of the disk it allows you a breather before the ass-kicking again. Holding only 8 songs you might feel a bit cheated, however most of them are over 7 minutes in length with "Soldiers Of The Wasteland" running at just under 10. This track in particular even has a section with a very Iron Maiden feel to it. One can easily take Dragonforce as the Dream Theater of Progressive Power Metal; a title I am giving them since the music defies the normal genre classification for me at present. I also liked "Fury Of The Storm" and "Once In A Lifetime". The band truly did not really remind me of anyone else so I cannot really draw comparisons to them. In one sense this is great as it stands as being a little more on the unique side.

The lineup consists of ZP Theart (Vocals), Herman 'Shred' Li & Sam Totman (Guitars), Adrian Lambert (Bass), Dave Macintosh (Drums) and Vadim Pruzhanov (Keyboards). It was impressive to also see a large lineup be able to pull all this together. Playing Metal at this rate is not so easily done in my opinion. Overall this was an enjoyable CD and I think fans of speedier power metal as well as creative use of lightning fast shredding will enjoy the work that these guys have delivered to us. Check it out, bands like this deserve more exposure.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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