Awful… Just fucking awful.
I love Dragonforce. No, I need to change that. The present tense is no longer valid. I loved Dragonforce. I saw them and Killswitch Engage on my birthday during the Inhuman Rampage tour and to this day it is still one of my all-time favorite shows. Killswitch was in perfect form and if it weren’t for the crazy solos and improv they executed in the show, I would have thought they were playing a cd. Killswitch is a band you definitely should not miss live, but Dragonforce… holy shit.
Their drummer was nothing more than a furiously flailing force made of hair and drum sticks, and the guitar work was flawless. Herman Li and Sam Totman were even better than in the videos I had obsessively watched on YouTube and their vocalist ZP, who looked like metal version of Weird Al, was bloody brilliant live. His voice was a bit worn out because SLC was at the end of the tour, but amazing nonetheless. Their performance was truly phenomenal and I did something I’ve never done before because of it. I bought a Tour shirt. Typically I hate them. The list of dates on the back is annoying, but I was so blown away I wanted to be able to point to my lower back and say I saw them on this date.
For years after that show I was converting people to the unrelenting awesomeness that was Dragonforce. They were the embodiment of what you imagine when you think of metal. Songs about warriors and dragons and epic quests, brilliant guitar work, over-the-top vocalist, and they were named Dragonforce for crying out loud. The only metal name more badass than that is Goatsnake. So when I say that this latest album is just plain terrible, know it’s coming from someone who has been a true fan for over 5 years.
I had originally told Isaac that I was going to write this review last weekend, but just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I listened to The Power Within at least 1x a day for the last week rounding it out to a solid baker’s dozen before sitting down in my favorite coffee shops to write this. Even now I have it going in the background while writing, but no matter how hard I have searched and searched for any redeeming value in this album I just can’t find it.
The guitar work feels less powerful. Like Dragonforce was downgraded to Dinosaurforce. Still pretty powerful, but not as awesome as a winged behemoth who breaths fire. Songs like “Wings Of Liberty” were so heavy on the distortion that the notes got muddled and the precision of their intricate guitar work was totally lost to my ears. The synth work was a little overdone on many of the tracks, and I swear most of the riffs on “Heart Of The Storm” were just recycled bits from Sonic Firestorm (their best album IMHO). Drums and bass are standard and as expected, but they aren’t the stars of this show so they don’t get any accolades or derisive comments.
I’ve been putting it off, but lets get down to the heart of the matter and talk about the mammoth in the room. The new vocalist. If you didn’t know, ZP left Dragonforce and a fella by the name of Marc Hudson took over. We’re already off to bad start because I can easily pronounce the guys last name, but I went in to this giving him the benefit of the doubt and I have to say; The absolute worst thing about this album is the new singer.
Marc Hudson is not ZP Theart, obviously, and his vocals do not compliment this style of music. He has a very generic sounding metal voice. It doesn’t fit with the other parts and makes the whole effort fall part in a big cloud of disappointment. The style of power metal Dragonforce plays needs a strong unique voice to belt out the lyrics and Marc just doesn’t cut it. Marc would be much more at home with ZP Theart’s new band I Am I. Their style is generic and forgettable just like Marc’s vocals. Which sucks for ZP because his voice just doesn’t fit such lack luster music and his career will probably suffer because of it..
I’ve always thought that when a band looses it’s lead singer it needs to change it’s name. You’re losing so much of your essence that it’s just not right to go on calling yourself what you were. That’s not to say I don’t like some lead singer change ups (like when Howard joined Killswitch, big improvement), but the lead singer defines a good portion of the band. Especially when they’ve had several albums and several hits together. When you change the voice of your music you are not the same band. Get a new name.
My ultimate hope is that this is some kind of Freaky Friday situation and that Marc and ZP will find the magical words they need to say and switch back into their appropriate bodies and Dragonforce can return to it’s former glory. However, my gut is telling me that we’re not living in the Disney Channel and that we are witnessing the slow painful death of the once great band Dragonforce.
Don’t buy this album. Or if you did, feel free to bitch about it in the comments below.