(Review By Guest Contributor: Kira Schlechter, RiffRelevant.com)
Still as excessive as a Death By Chocolate dessert, Dragonforce returns with its first album in three years, “Reaching Into Infinity”.
Singer Marc Hudson, mega-guitarists Herman Li and Sam Totman, bassist Frederic Leclercq, keyboardist Vadim Pruzhanov, and new drummer Gee Anzalone still favor what you could call either extreme wanking-off or just taking complete joy in playing as recklessly fast as possible.
In this, their third album with Hudson, Dragonforce takes off with all their super-speedy, megawatt majesty right from the opening track “Ashes Of The Dawn,” which features the expected extreme jaw-dropping guitar fireworks of Totman and Li. For all their speed, though, they never sacrifice sparkling melody or crisp, perfect tone— it’s never sludge, each note dropping precisely.
Hudson’s high tenor suits the treble-heavy music perfectly, sending it even further into the stratosphere, but he sings almost breathlessly, the words tumbling over each other so he can keep up with the crazy musical pace.
“Judgement Day” has a refreshing slow passage at the end, made for singalongs, that lets Hudson stretch out a bit. “Astral Empire” is glorious, a sweeping blaze of joyousness neatly set off by a darkly funky break midway through, before hurtling back to hyperspeed guitar riffing.
So is “Curse Of Darkness”—the music is so huge and flat-out happy that you can’t help but smile and shake your head. The lovely instrumental break midway shows that when Dragonforce slows down, they are at their most effective.
“Silence” is a flat-out ‘80s-style power ballad with all the proper parts intact – guitar solos, big bridge, catchy chorus… you know the drill. “Midnight Madness” insists you thrust your fists into the air and sing the chorus – and you know you want to.
“War!” is a bit more aggressive, with Hudson soaring into a falsetto in the chorus, and the epic “The Edge Of The World” is a lushly ambitious reach into prog territory and a most welcome change of pace, literally and figuratively. Hudson even tries out a death-metal roar.
Dragonforce isn’t doing anything new on “Reaching Into Infinity,” just solidifying their place as the fastest – for sure – and the most complex – probably – band out there. You do get the feeling, though, that the songs are merely a vehicle to show off their musical chops – because lyrically speaking, they aren’t the most compelling. but they work. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad one is up to you.
Dragonforce “Reaching Into Infinity” (Special Edition) is streaming below. It is out now from Metal Blade Records and available for purchase here.
Kira spent 11 years at the Associated Press in Philadelphia, and another 11 at the Harrisburg Patriot-News covering music, specifically and frequently heavy metal. She’s been writing about and listening to metal since she was 15. Currently she also freelances for the Reading Eagle newspaper; in the past, she has freelanced for RIP, The World Of Hibernia, and Mademoiselle.