First of all, I would like to note that I am about to criticize a worldwide known band, if not one of the most well known contemporary metal bands. Literally, my opinion means nothing when compared to the fame this band has earned through near brilliant marketing techniques. I am just some asshole on the internet. With that said, it is surprising to see Dragonforce’s stock rise and fall throughout this decade.
DragonForce have as many things going for them as they do strikes against them. Here is a band whose breakout success with “Through the Fire and Flames,” the lead single on 2006’s Inhuman Rampage, has both benefited and hindered this British power metal act. Because of this song’s inclusion on the Guitar Hero soundtrack, DragonForce has both enjoyed the success of a new audience of video game consumers and been the band that was on that video game that no one really plays anymore. Despite being a competent band aside from the rumor of studio enhancement, this connection to Guitar Hero potentially robbed DragonForce of receiving the full fledged respect they probably deserve. Things have been made worse by the band never really putting themselves in an important position in contemporary heavy metal, aside from being included in the massive surge of metal interest in the mid 00’s. This is sort of disappointing as the band has always put out decent, if not predictable, power metal albums.
Maximum Overload, the band’s sixth album, retains the drum and guitar trio heard from previous records, and has multiple appearances by guest vocalist Matt Heafy from Trivium and various additional backing guests. Though this mixture should be a defining factor for the album’s uniqueness, Maximum Overload possesses the same qualities as previous releases. In fact, this record could run along side of previous albums and be pretty much an extended cut of one large untitled mega album. Let us be quite honest here and say that this album continues their use of really fast guitar solos, dynamic production, terrible cover of a popular Johnny Cash song, and many verses sung about overcoming abstract strife in a fantasy undertone. There, we have our DragonForce record. With all of that said, Maximum Overload is not that bad and compared to many other power metal records, is quite study in its focus and production. Though this band lacks the respect of the metal community once outside of gaming culture, DragonForce’s albums persevere through general ignorance and neglect.
I think I came to terms with Dragonforce and their career with Maximum Overload. Though I did not particularly think it was a spectacular record, the guitarwork from Li and Totmen combined with the keyboard work from Vadim Pruzhanov is more than enough to be entertaining for 30-50 minutes. Heafy’s vocals give certain tracks like “The Game” flavors of metalcore that surprisingly work for the band. It maybe impossible to think of what this band was at one time and view them as an act that wants to sing about swords and shit. Dragonforce will always be the band who made the choice for greater fame. Though DragonForce does not get the nods of approval as bands half their sales, they will always be the band who carries on. Sometimes it will be forgettable and at other times, it will be commendable.
Album: Maximum Overload
Released: August 18th, 2014
Score: 4/9 Hammers