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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

DragonForce

Inhuman Rampage

Review by Rick Damigella

Dragon who? Never heard of DragonForce? I hadn't either until this past January. While their new album, Inhuman Rampage has just streeted in the US, this quintet of speed demons released this, their third album, in Japan and Europe earlier this year. Before we get to the meat of this killer disc, a bit of back-story is needed. While visiting Tokyo, Japan on business, I found myself at what I considered the gates of Babylon, Shangri-La, the garden of earthly delights, call it what you want, but they call it the eight story Tower Records store in Shibuya. I hadn't stepped more than twenty feet inside when I was greeted by a cardboard display listening station featuring artwork and a name that sounded to me like a great listen. After donning the headphones and punching up track one, I was instantly hooked. Clichéd to say you had me at hello? DragonForce had me at two seconds of a guitar and drum barrage that I still can't get over even after listening to this album for the better part of this year. Since then, I have made it my personal mission to make anyone I know who even remotely likes heavy music listen to this disc.

If there were a speed limit to metal, DragonForce don't just break it, they annihilate it. Sure there have been metal bands for decades now that play at break neck pace, but these guys play with such an incredible blend of ferocity, accuracy, melody, musicianship and speed that to call them speed metal would be an insult. DragonForce's unique brand of speed-meets-power-meets-prog has taken the idea of a double kick drum, guitars set to warp 11 and solos that would melt diamonds and elevated what can be accomplished by five musicians into a wholly new realm. Now I am an old school head banger who has given himself whiplash a couple times whilst thrashing my noggin to and fro and I still find myself doing so with abandon, but Inhuman Rampage is such an ear-bending musical statement, that to simply bang one's head along with it would almost be an insult. That and the fact these guys are so darn fast that you could quite literally decapitate yourself if you tried to keep up with the pace set down by Herman Li and Sam Totman with their guitars and by Dave Mackintosh who pounds the skins into submission with such speed that it is almost inhuman itself.

Now granted, heavy metal that stampedes along at this kind of pace is not for everyone, but to sit and listen to the unbelievable way the band handles their instruments is a marvel to behold even for the casual listener. Singer ZP Theart, unlike a lot of his metal contemporaries, actually does sing (as opposed to doing an imitation of Cookie Monster into the mic) and he sings with enough power and passion as to be able to keep pace with his bandmates even if his lyrics are not delivered at the same blistering pace, which is another refreshing thing about this album. Once you learn the lyrics, this is an immensely good album to sing along with. The combination of the guitars of Li and Totma and Vadim Pruzhanov's wild virtuoso keyboard runs bring a further unique sonic flavor to the band's sound which at times is melodic, at others majestic and throughout the disc is always powerful. Many of our overseas readers have probably been on the DragonForce bullet train for a few years now. Now it is time for them to conquer the ears of America. I would be remiss if I didn't point blank say to our US readers, drop whatever it is you are doing and buy this album. The band have been melting faces as part of this summer's Ozz Fest and their website points to continued touring throughout this year. For me, what started out as a random listen on a headphone display in Japan has turned into an obsession for an album of music I can't get out of my head and won't get tired of. I meant it when I said I have made it my personal mission to get as many people to get and listen to this album as I can. Now it's your turn.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Through the Fire and Flames
Every classic album should have a song this good that sets the tone for things to come. This, the lead single in the US, is that song. Melodic guitars and synth give way to a pounding yet melodic assault with a powerful sing along chorus.
Revolution DeathSquad
Hmm, yes, well there's a name that will scare your parents, or wife, or teenage children, but get past it and you get a continuation of what track number one so eloquently started.
Storming the Burning Fields
At 5:19, this is the shortest song on the disc. The chorus of "Through damnation we rise, sign of the times, master of bleeding eyes, thunder on high, look to the sky, you never gonna take us down" is as an unabashed headbanging treat as could be.
Operation Ground and Pound
A slower, melodic intro quickly escalates into an anthem worthy of your next campaign against the forces of evil.
Body Breakdown
I not a big fan of reading things into other people's lyrics, but this song continues the album's theme of fighting for freedom. The keyboard and guitar solo should make those who still play in nothing but dropped D tuning think twice.
Cry For Eternity
Really? Is there anything better than twin-following guitars and a galloping drum intro? How about 8:12 (longest on the album) of anthemic metal that makes you want to draw a sword and fight the barbarians invading your village? No seriously! Look at your village gate!
The Flame of Youth
It is at this point in the album that I find myself wondering how could these guys have only been waving the metal torch for a short three years. I dare you to try to air guitar the solo. Let me know when your fingers are no longer sprained.
Trail of Broken Hearts
Lest we assume these guys can only play at speeds attainable through warp drive, the album closer is a pleasing slow-mid tempo affair that still packs all the power and majesty of the DragonForce sound into a decidedly slower package. Instead of charging with the drums, the guitars come out and sing along behind ZP Theart. Get your lighters out and hold them on high.
 
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