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DragonForce: Ultra Beatdown (Ultra Edition)

DragonForce are back in 2008 with their fourth release Ultra Beatdown. This is one band that has many metal fans divided; they either seem to like them or not, with not much middle ground. Ultra Beatdown still features your typical DragonForce fueled with super fast guitar shredding Speed/Power Metal.

The Special or 'Ultra Edition' has two bonus tracks and also a DVD containing an insight into the making of Ultra Beatdown which is quite humorous at times. The other footage showing the making of Herman Li's E-Gen guitars.

My first taste of Ultra Beatdown was the video for the single and opening track "Heroes Of Our Time" and what stood out was the impressive twin guitar solo from Herman Li and Sam Totman. "The Fire Still Burns" follows which is another DragonForce style speedster. Up next is "Reason To Live" which starts out fast with Death Metal like drums then going into more familiar territory, things slow down for the solo section then build up again after keyboardist Vadin Pruzhanov has his turn to shine. One song that really stood out to me was "Scars Of Yesterday", but it is a shame this is a bonus track only available on the Ultra Edition as I feel it should have been included on the standard version, as they really mix things up on this one with many cool moments. In fact, if there were more tracks I liked this much my rating would definitely be higher.

The guitar playing of Herman Li and Sam Totman steals the show here with some great harmonies and solos, and they are backed up with the other members doing an impressive job bringing DragonForce's sound together. Vocally the big catchy choruses are still present and all things combined Ultra Beatdown is one release that the many fans of DragonForce will enjoy .

Track list - Ultra Edition
1. Heroes of Our Time
2. The Fire Still Burns
3. Reasons to Live
4. Heartbreak Armageddon
5. The Last Journey Home
6. A Flame for Freedom
7. Inside the Winter Storm
8. The Warrior Inside
Bonus Tracks
9. Strike Of The Ninja
10.Scars Of Yesterday
The Making Of "Ultra Beatdown"
The Making of E-Gen Guitars with Herman Li

Added: September 17th 2008
Reviewer: Scott Jessup
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 2689
Language: english

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DragonForce: Ultra Beatdown (Ultra Edition)
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2008-09-17 08:14:52
My Score:

The guys in Dragonforce are back to do their super sonic Speed Metal thing and deliver unto the masses a righteous thrashing with their latest album "Ultra Beatdown". It marks the bands fourth release and second for the Roadrunner Records label and finds the guys continuing along the process of delivering highly charged Metal that is driven by blistering guitar work and drumming. When I first heard the band with "Sonic Firestorm" I didn't know what hit me because it moved like a freight train on greased tracks and just ran over the listener and left them dazed at just how fast the band moved on recording. It surely wasn't a fluke as this continued on to their Roadrunner Records debut "Inhuman Rampage" and now onto "Ultra Beatdown" as well. The conventional Metal listener might dismiss them by saying that it must all be the same in sound and its interesting to see just how the fans split themselves off into sides that are either with them or against them with every breath. There doesn't seem to be a middle ground and while there are those who find the band the next best thing since sliced bread there are others who will rally their hatred in the street about them. I fall to the positive side when it comes to the group and find them quite entertaining and very lively it's actually safe to say that we can almost hear the fun that they have at this in the albums opener "Heroes Of Our Time". When the album begins you see that the band has not slowed to a comfort zone or are resting on their laurels after finding so much success from Guitar Hero III but instead are back to the business of smiting the listener with speed and technical displays of guitar wizardry. This comes care of the twin lead guitar slingers of Sam Totman and Herman Li and no matter how hard I try I still cannot determine who's the faster or better guitar player between them. I would ask one of them if the chance arose but I fear the answer would be "I'm faster and better" from each of them. As we get to the second track of "The Fire Still Burns" we realize that while there is a similarity in the drive and tempo of the tune that the band has upgraded their abilities in terms of how technical they are. Let's face it, when the band's premise is to play Metal this fast and with a ton of guitar solos there is some risk of their being a little bit of a consistency that you will recognize from time to time.

When we hit track three we find that it seems as though drummer Dave MacKintosh had been listening to some super powered Black or Death Metal based on the blast beat drumming that the tune features at its onset. The tune becomes an almost glorious sing along which will definitely be a song that the audience will be a part of in concert. I really liked how "Heartbreak Armageddon" started and would have enjoyed hearing the track kept at the tempo that they launched it with but like most of their material the band falls back into the lock of acrobatic speeds and riffs. Either way you slice it the band has delivered once again and will surely impress those who had hoped for a solid album from them. It blows right by you as well and I found this interesting since most of the tracks pass the seven minute mark. It's not all a shred fest by the way and the band offers up a solid ballad/anthem with "The Last Journey Home". I know that the cell phone displays will be lighting up for this one. Singer ZP Theart hasn't lost his edge and leads the charge into melodic choruses that seem to soar to the skies. There is also a lot of good coming out of keyboardist Vadim and he seems to be much more involved in the tunes as far as his instrument goes as compared to the guitars. My view is that if you are one of the detractors of the band or perhaps know some folks who might sway your decision about them is that you take a moment and choose for yourself about their relevance or lack thereof. I have always managed to find some level of good as well as a lot of energetic Metal fun in Dragonforce and I thank them for keeping the scene interesting with their contributions. This is a promising move upward from what we heard on "Inhuman Rampage" and I am pretty confident that many Metal maniacs will also enjoy digging their air guitar out of the closet to play along with the band as the album melts their speakers.

Roadrunner Records has also released a special edition version of the CD with comes with two bonus tracks as well as a DVD that features a "making of" feature. I didn't have that version for the purpose of this review but admit that knowing the available space one has on a CD that I was a little annoyed to not just find all available new tracks presented on it. I felt it was unfair to make the listener choose between two versions from the onset of the release as opposed to waiting several months before offering up a different and expanded edition.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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