REVIEW: DRAGONFORCE – “Reaching Into Infinity”
DragonForce are about to release their seventh studio album, ‘Reaching into Infinity’ and I am more than a little bit excited about this one!
Everyone who knows DragonForce knows what they are about; fast guitars, catchy choruses and soaring vocals. I am shamelessly in love with them and everything about them. They bring all my favourite elements of power metal into their sound, and I can’t help but get completely consumed by it. ‘Reaching into Infinity’ – their latest contribution – has some interesting new elements that nevertheless don’t dilute their trademark sound.
While most of ‘Reaching into Infinity’ was recorded in Sweden, the band also managed to record some of the tracks while they were on their ‘Killer Elite’ tour, leveraging studio time across both Europe and North America to get the album done. Talk about effective time management! The band will be releasing a standard record, which will be an 11-track, 53-minute album. There is also a deluxe package that will have a few extra goodies in it, including a DVD, and two extra songs. A cover of Death’s “Evil Dead” is present in the deluxe package, and I highly recommend a listen – it’s a beauty!
‘Reaching into Infinity’ begins a 90-second, wordless introduction that is slow and intentional. It builds to a march, with harmonizing guitars and a drum beat ‘rat-a-tatting’ off in the distance. Go straight into “Ashes of the Dawn,” and that’s when we first hear the trademark DragonForce: fast guitars, complemented well with the symphonic sound of the keys in the background. Vocalist Marc Hudson enters stage left, immediately sharing with the listener a dramatic tale of action.
“Astral Empire” is a highlight on the record. It covers a lot of ground. Beginning with some seriously fast drums from new drummer Gee Anzalone, the song explodes into the first verse. There’s a cool slower riff that makes its way through each verse and adds a different dynamic to the sound. A bass solo from Frédéric Leclercq about halfway through becomes a prelude to fast and frantic guitars from Herman Li and Sam Totman.
There always has been a theatrical element to the DragonForce sound, and “Curse of Darkness” is a good example of this. Hudson’s vocals are the focal point through the verses, with quieter guitars and a simple drum beat in the background supporting his voice. A good mix of fast and slow tempos in the track showcases the musical contributions of each member of the band. It’s the right blend of DragonForce elements, and the outcome is a fantastic song.
When I spoke to Sam Totman about the record a few weeks ago, we discussed “Silence,” the ballad of the album. While it seems a lot of fans are less excited about slower DragonForce songs, I do enjoy ballads, and “Silence” is a good one. It captures all the elements of a traditional power ballad, complete with emotional lyrics and a softer feel. The chorus is very catchy and easy to sing along to. Vadim Pruzhanov’s keyboards are subtle but effective in “Silence,” adding to the drama of the song.
The best part of the album is the 11-minute long “Edge of the World.” Totman explained that this song was inspired by Iron Maiden’s ‘Seventh Son of a Seventh Son,’ as he and Leclercq wanted to create their own long, epic song. Highlights of this track include the building nature of the song, an epic chorus, and Hudson’s growling vocals mid-song. To quote Totman: “there are growlers that you like, and growlers that you don’t like…”and personally, I think Hudson has a great growler. “Edge of the World” is thus my favourite song on ‘Reaching into Infinity.’
All in all, DragonForce have produced an exceptional album. It complements their discography well while showing newer musical aspects that highlights the bands growth and diversity. It’s a fun and easy listen, and bears all the hallmarks that people love about power metal. DragonForce fans will really appreciate this record!