Dragonforce is the definition of a "Love 'em or Hate 'em" band. A lot of people write them off as "that band who had a hard song on Guitar Hero" while others see them as Power Metal legends. Regardless of opinion, there is no denying Dragonforce's technical abilities. With the band's sixth album, Maximum Overload, the band starts to get a lot more diverse musically and it just may prove to be the step in the right direction.
The right of the gate, Dragonforce takes everyone by surprise with The Game, a dangerously heavily song that features more downtuned guitars and backup vocals by Matt Heafy of Trivium. The essence of Dragonforce's sound is still there. Ridiculously fast and heavy and let's face it, no matter what Dragonforce writes, it will always be cheesy (which is in no way a bad thing, Power Metal is full of cheese). Roughly half way into the song, the band goes back to their signature sound for a bit (what some call the SO FAR AWAAAAY riffs) before going back and saying heavy through the rest of the track. Next we go into Tomorrow's King, which starts off very very strange with weird synth sounds and soundclips before going into the Dragonforce Power Metal sound. This song really harkens back to the first two albums like Valley of The Damned and Sonic Firestorm. No More is next. It starts off a bit slower than the previous two songs, but still at hyper speed. This has more of a Thrash Metal feeling musically while the Power Metal vocals and synths are still there. After the guitar solos, it gets insanely brutal for a few seconds before breaking down then getting back to the Power Metal. A very nice touch. Three Hammers actually starts off as a quite slow and mellow song. Much like a song of marching off to war. When it reaches roughly the halfway point we go back into hyper drive. The song ends back with the marching riff to close out the song. Symphony Of The Night leads you into a false sense of security with an acoustic intro, then BAM! Extra awesome Power Metal goodness. Towards the middle it has a very nice symphonic sound much like Yngwie Malmsteen does in a lot of his symphonic songs. The song closes out in true Dragonforce style. The Sun Is Dead starts off a bit midtempo (for a Dragonforce song anyways) and stay that way pretty much throughout. The solos in this one stand out quite a bit. not just over the top technical, but very melodic and fit the song perfectly. Defenders comes up next and just attacks right out of the gate. While not the fastest song on the album, it is definitely one of the more standout tracks. The chorus is very grandeous and again has the SO FAR AWAAAAY riffing after the second chorus. The song itself has much of the vibe of The Game, definitely not a bad thing. Extraction Zone is by far the heaviest opening riff on the album. Right from the start it has a awesome blastbeat section. The song continues on being fast and heavy. In the middle of the track it takes a very strange turn with a bit of electronic drums and a slowed down section of some light guitar soloing, before going back into Dragonforce's signature tone. City Of Gold is the last original song on the album. It again brings back memories of the first two albums. The ending of the song is a great, epic way to end original material. As a special bonus, the standard edition of the album closes with a cover of Johnny Cash's Ring Of Fire. It is by far the fastest Power Metal cover of Ring Of Fire that has been recorded in the mainstream. It's a bit hard to take seriously, but it is actually very well done. Either absolutely needed or absolutely not needed (depending on how you look at things) There is some extra long, over the top technical solos, but would you really expect anything less? As great as City of Gold would have been as the real closer, Ring Of Fire is a fun way to close out Maximum Overload.
While Dragonforce isn't really breaking down new barriers this time around, they did a magnificent job of not repeating themselves over and over again, as many non-fans seem to say. the album, while not as some bands do, is diverse enough for waht needs to be done. Dragonforce is a cheesy Power Metal band that knows how to write great songs and have fun, and isn't the point of an album to enjoy what you hear? If you never gave Dragonforce an actual chance before, give Maximum Overload a shot, it's worth at least a try.
Dragonforce- Maximum Overload available (SO FAR AWAAAAY) August 19th via Metal Blade Records
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)