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Dragonforce - Sonic Firestorm

=Staff's pick

My Spirit Will Go On*
Fury Of The Storm
Fields Of Despair
Dawn Over A New World
Above The Winter Moonlight*
Soldiers Of The Wastelands
Prepare For War*
Once In A Lifetime
Cry Of The Brave (Japan only bonus track)

Genre Power Metal
ZP Theart
Tracks 9
Herman Li
Runningtime 54 Min.
Sam Totman
Label Noise Records
Adrian Lambert
Release 19 April 2004
Dave Mackintosh
Country England
Vadim Pruzhanov
Similar artists Freedom Call, Power Quest

Sonic Firestorm. The guys in Dragonforce have managed to name their new effort most appropriate. This is about as fast as normal metal can get without using blastbeats and make the whole thing transform into something that can be compared to grindcore.

Battering kegs and hysterically swirling guitarriffs are the foundation on what Dragonforce is based upon, and this time they have if possible cranked it all up one notch further. It is fast and intense and sometimes you think you can spot parts of songs that honestly can have no deeper meaning than being a showdown for how well the guys can play their instruments. Nevertheless, they know a good melody and chorus when they see it and do their best to implement that in the music, but I have the feeling that that part unfortunatly get a bit lost along the way, and has to make way for another orgy in (sometimes a bit boring) dueling guitars.

It is clear that they have matured a bit since the debut. The production sounds thicker and more worked through, and the album gives an impression of band that is confident and are doing exactly what they want, but alas - the songwriting has not followed the same steps of development. Musically it continues pretty much where the last album left us and not many, if any, new influences or angles have been brought forth. In fact, some guitar passages and riffs sound suspiciously similar to bits from their early work. The choruses also tend to sound just that bit too familiar after a while as they usually are built up in the same way and same key as each other. The exception is Prepare For War, which is a great tune that changes back and forth between heavy midtempo and - surprise - fast and cathy, and has a hint of folk-and irish tunes baked into it.

A quick overview of the rest of the album shows that we have the really fast speedbullets Fury Of The Storm, Fields Of Despair and Cry Of The Brave, the almost just as fast but more concentrated on good hooks and refrains My Spirit Will Go On, (the brilliant) Above The Winter Moonlight and Once In A Lifetime, the averagesong Soldiers Of The Wastelands, and of course the completely useless and embarrassing semiballad Dawn Over A New World.

There are no real highlights on the album, but instead they are more or less equals to each other. That is both an asset of this album, but at the same time a bit of its weakness. The songs are also a wee bit too long considering what music style we are dealing with here. Half of the album consists of songs that clocks in on times between 7 and almost 10 minutes, and again that is probably due to the fact that they feel that they have to squeeze in just that extra 2 minute solo. I am one the world's biggest fan of well played, delicious harmony solos and can be devoured and mesmerized by instrumental albums, but in the name of all honesty, Dragonforce are not the virtuosos they think they are.

This is a decent power metal album, but if you already own the previous effort I doubt that this one will expand your audible horizon as much as you probably had hoped for.

See also review of: Reaching Into Infinity , In The Line Of Fire…Larger Than Live , Maximum Overload , The Power Within , Ultra Beatdown , Inhuman Rampage , Valley Of The Damned , Valley Of The Damned demo






6,5 chalices of 10 - Tommy

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