Album Reviews

Dragonforce – Inhuman Rampage

(tom day) UK release date: 9 January 2006

Have you ever had one of those days? You know, jut like the one Fred Durst penned a ditty about back when nu-metal was cool? “Where you wake up, everything is f**ked, and everybody sucks?” Well if the post-Christmas depression period really does give January the highest annual quota of suicides, GPs should start saving lives by prescribing “power metal” on the NHS.

For those who have heard the hype but not the CD, I can tell you with absolute confidence that although Dragonforce may be attracting comparisons to being heavy metal’s answer to The Darkness faster than the Lib Dems are mutinying against their once-drunken leader, this quintet can fit more than four chords into a song, don’t wear leotards, and have more in common with Iced Earth than Queen.

Aside from the geekish levels of string-twiddling and off-kilter drum beats, there has not been an album dripping with as much banal escapism since the last disaster piece from Girls Aloud.

Granted, the music contained on Inhuman Rampage would melt the plastic faces off the aforementioned bubblegum pop princesses, but do the eight songs on this album “mean” any more? Well no, but the Dragonforce lads have clearly spent far too many hours becoming true gurus of their instruments to be at all concerned with songs that “mean” anything – they’re only human after all!

It’s easy to see why this bunch are already “big in Japan”, especially when the Dream Theater influence (or is that plagiarism?) is evident from the first chords of opener Through The Fire And Flames. It then gallops into a full on “extreme power metal” (their words not mine!) standard complete with wailing double lead guitar lines and more double tapping than Slipknot have crammed into their whole career.

Revolution Deathsquad would be the sound of Dragonforce flirting with some hardcore thrash metal, were it not for the tune-laden melody that underpins the breakneck speed of the double kick-driven, eight-minute number. Storming The Burning Fields turns the cheese level up to 11 as the harsh electro-keyboard tones layered over mind-numbing blast beats prove far too Van Halen for me.

For those of you who thought Dragonforce were ever about innovation outside of their self-defined power metal boundaries, Operation Ground And Pound (I know, they clearly named the songs while inebriated) will quash any hopes of originality, although the science fiction lyrics get more abstract as the tracks roll on, while the guitar solos just get faster… And faster… And faster…

If you are at all annoyed, frustrated or wound up by Dragonforce, you have completely missed the point of their musical contribution to the world. In fact, presupposing an open mindset, Dragonforce should easily make a Top Of The Pops appearance due to their multi-faceted appeal. You see, to the Bill Bailey, middle-aged Judas Priest fan they are a chance to relive the glory days, while their kids can dig the “retro” feel of ’80s metal come full circle.

So, if you’ve been searching for the soundtrack to many a Sunday afternoon spent turning the dining room table into a three-dimensional board game fantasy land where goblins and warlords exist and really do have supernatural powers, your year is off to a great start!

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Dragonforce – Inhuman Rampage
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