Thursday, August 21, 2014

DragonForce - Maximum Overload (2014)

Haters, prepare yourselves, DragonForce is back with another album. The over the top power metal band that made themselves a name thanks to their furious tempo and ultra long and crazy guitar solos are back again with their 6th full length album entitled "Maximum Overload".

So is this album a continuation of "The Power Within", a album that actually sounded "normal" thanks to the fact that the band did not use the same song over and over again? well, sort of. "Maximum Overload" is definitely not the same song over and over again, but the typical DragonForce insanity is still obvious. Some time it works perfectly fine, like in the powerful "No More" and the heavy "Defenders", or it just gets plain silly and stupid, like the solo in "The Game". The variation is not as big as it was in "The Power Within", but that is mostly because there is no "Cry Thunder" or "Seasons" to help the album change tempo. The closest we come to similar songs are "Three Hammers" and "The Sun Is Dead", and they both really stands out because it does not contain a velocity that matches the light, which makes it a very welcome break in all this insanity.

But the overall quality is very unstable, balancing on the edge between being cool and being cheesy. For example, "Symphony of The Night" is classic cheesy power metal, DragonForce style, which means it has several neo-classical elements that goes by even faster than normal. And then we have "Extraction Zone" that just feels weird, especially with Marc Hudson's limited range. Marc is just to bland for me to really make an impact in a band like this, definitely preferred ZP Theart's vocals more.

There is however some really good details in the album. The guitar work is, as usual, top notch and it feels like the band keeps trying to evolve their music, even if the jump was not as big here as it was between the previous two albums. It is definitely a good sign for the band and the future of their career.

The album ends highly interesting with a cover of the Johnny Cash classic "Ring of Fire". As soon as this was announced, I immediately started imagine how the band would approach the song, and I think I came pretty close to the end result. It may at first listen feel weird to hear this version, but after a while you will understand that the band did a good job with it. The song feels like a DragonForce production, but you can still acknowledge the classic riff in it and the solo that the band has added feels well composed and fitting with the song. Not bad for a first try.

Ultimately, the only reason to why DragonForce still has this popularity is that there is no other band like them. There is no band that is willing to go full speed throughout an entire album and do it with songs that could reach upwards 8 minutes. "Maximum Overload" is far from DragonForce's craziest album, but it still has a momentum that outmatches most of its competition. I still prefer the predecessor "The Power Within" over this album, but I will give this my approval.

Songs worthy of recognition: The Sun Is Dead, No More, Defenders

Rating: 7/10 Cities of Gold

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