DragonForce - Maximum Overload

DragonForce - Maximum Overload

(CD, earMUSIC / Metal Blade, 2014)

I remember that I used to like DRAGONFORCE, especially during their first two albums era. Then something happened and the music became over-complicated, being focused to the faster-than-light riffs that could wear off your fingertips if you’d try to follow those maze-like tabs. Anyway, one can always stop following a band without complaining like he is the one calling the shots, and this is what I did. Since then, a lot of water has run under the bridge and now DRAGONFORCE released the second LP, having Marc Hudson behind the mic after the very good “The Power Within”. So, “Maximum Overload” made me re-check this band since there were striking signs that something good was brewing...

“The Game” opens the album in the trademark DRAGONFORCE tradition with super-fast guitar leads/shreds but there is something different - or should I say new? Yes, the riffs are one step forward to the extent that some Thrash elements can be tracked down, making the music less overloaded and hence more interesting. If you’re frowning with disbelief while reading these lines, then pay attention to the riff action before and during the solo and I am sure you’ll see the light of the truth. Indeed, this is the perfect album opener and without doubt redrew my attention. By the way, Marc Hudson has the perfect voice for DRAGONFORCE with a wide range and I think the touring to support “The Power Within” gave the band the chance to learn his capabilities and take full advantage of them in this album. What has not changed is the Power Metal distinct character that lives and breathes through the sing-along melodies and the spirit-lifting melodies as it happens in “Tomorrow's Kings” that will get you going, especially during the chorus where the backing vocals are damn-addictive. Sure, the songs follows to the letter all the instructions how to write a Power Metal song but at the same time the band sounds refreshed and recharged, while the lead guitars are still not overdoing it. Also, I have to give credit to the sound production for giving some air-time to the bass lines that have their own spot here, especially in the six-minute long “Three Hammers”. This song is dead-Epic with fists-in-the-air mid-tempo groove and to my delight RUNNING WILD inspired riffs (at least this is how they sound to me) while I am sure one can easily throw the name of HAMMERFALL on the influences table. Still, things get heat up during the fast break with the yet-again Thrash-y riffs before pushing the scales to the red zone with the fast guitar/keyboard duel. The mid-tempo and groovy rhythm after the solo is super-sweet (more nice bass lines here) and I think my interest for DRAGONFORCE has been officially re-kindled.

“Defenders” is a fine example of how DRAGONFORCE re-structured their song-writing without messing around with the band’s striking identity and I will again refer to simpler guitar forms, catchy and heavier than in previous albums rhythms. And while talking about new stuff, it’s about time to comment on the first ever DRAGONFORCE cover song that in reality is a complete overhaul of Johnny Cash’s “Ring Of Fire”. This has absolutely nothing to do with Cash’s version and this is one of the reasons for getting a higher rate than the majority of covers that sadly are so close to the originals. The changes are so strong that you will only recognize the song if you know the lyrics of the chorus, otherwise one would say it’s just another DRAGONFORCE song.

I really like “Maximum Overload” and, in fact, I have spent more listening time that it would be enough to form a solid opinion. All these changes made me once again interested for DRAGONFORCE and I will definitely check them in the upcoming tour because after all it has been a really long time.

PS: Initially, I thought that having five bonus tracks is too much, but after additional spins, I’d say that ten songs are perfect for the regular tracklisting. Still, the bonus tracks are good ones.

8/10


Links:

www.DragonForce.Com
www.MySpace.Com/DragonForce
www.FaceBook.Com/DragonForce
www.Twitter.Com/DragonForceHQ


Tracklist:

01. The Game
02. Tomorrow's Kings
03. No More
04. Three Hammers
05. Symphony Of The Night
06. The Sun Is Dead
07. Defenders
08. Extraction Zone
09. City Of Gold
10. Ring Of Fire


Lineup:

Marc Hudson - Vocals
Dave Mackintosh - Drums
Vadim Pruzhanov - Keyboards
Frédéric Leclercq - Bass, Vocals (harsh)
Sam Totman - Guitar
Herman Li - Guitar