Released: 2004, Noise / Sanctuary
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
The world´s ridiculously fastest Power Metal combo returns with quite a sonic firestorm indeed... eh (!), simply titled SONIC FIRESTORM exactly. What I remember particularly very well from these guys´ debut album, VALLEY OF THE DAMNED that was released last year, they seemed to be determined enough to reach the speed of light in some of their songs on the debut - and they in fact nearly even succeeded in doing so. And that´s where they failed indeed in my opinion. Some of their songs were ok, but too much of that flying adrenaline-filled, damn high-octane Speed/Power Metal seemed to be simply too much for me.
On SONIC FIRESTORM, luckily these incredibly talented musicians in DragonForce have learnt something from their ´mistakes´ they did on VALLEY OF THE DAMNED. The raging speed element is, of course, still very much and strongly present on this follow-up album of theirs (especially David Mackintosh´s drum parts are breath-taking a suffocative way at times, urgh!), but this time it sounds like the guys have paid more attention to their song arrangements on SONIC FIRESTORM, adding more varied parts into them and that way providing a listener a change to take a longer breath before speeding up a general atmosphere of the songs once again.
“My Spirit Will Go on” has a really excellent epic and symphonic start in it. Herman and Sam, the band´s uncrowned lightning throwers in their Royal Highness, seem to have lots of fun again by spitting out serpents and brimstones via their 6-stringers even if I have to say I feel much more comfortable with some of the heavier and slower parts that they have managed to take in for this particular song. Also, somehow this song reminds me of Sonata Arctica due to vocalist input in the song. Some similarities to the Sonata Arctica stuff are obviously there, but similarities tend to be somewhat unavoidable sometimes.
Much of the same can also be heard in the next song called “Fury of the Storm”. A breath-taking speed of the song nearly kills me, so before it´s too late for me, I need to skip it and move my ears to the next song. “Fields of Despair” – and the killing continues; I´m about to be suffocated by an overdose of some high-octane speed elements here again, but luckily a great and very catchy chorus part makes up some of these overly exaggerative ´faster-than-anyone-anything´ –parts in this particular track.
“Dawn over a New World” is a pit-stop for a listener she/he has been looking for; kind of an unusual ballad song from these furious speed merchants. Well, since I have never been such a big fan of ballads, I´m not going to say a word about this song either. If you are looking for some sweet and honey for your ears, maybe “Dawn of a New World” offers you all that... and even more?
Then back to the ´normal´ in Dragonforce´s case, I mean, back to all those things where these guys feel to be at home more than anywhere else. It´s about the time to find a button for a turbo level again. Or wait... actually despite of the song´s almost phenomenal fast part in the beginning of the song, “Above the Winter Moonlight” eventually manages to surprise me by turning out just a song of speed-for-speed´s sake. Again, the chorus part of the song is somewhat addictive, ZP coming straight to the forefront of the song and proving to be a hell of a vocalist who can truly sing. A man with a true ability to SING... yes indeed! Otherwise “Above the Winter Moonlight” holds inside enough different variations to be one of my favorite tunes on SONIC FIRESTORM. Hopefully we can hear similar stuff from them in the future as well ´coz this song does represent a direction where I personally would like them to develop their mix of both Speed – and Power Metal.
And the same goes for “Soldiers of the Wasteland” which not only is the longest song on this release, but also my absolute favorite number off the album. It´s got everything that I actually look for from a well-made Power Metal song: A very memorable chorus part, enough speed, enough heaviness, unexpected hooks, well-executed riffs and rhythms and overall a suitable amount of variation that keeps a listener awake while she/he takes a journey through a song. Here´s a top-notch Power Metal song from every of its different angle... just brilliant!
“Prepare for War” brings Dragonforce even more away from some of those hyper-fast atmospheres that became their strongest trademark musically on VALLEY OF THE DAMNED. Good for them. Much of the same shameless praising can be used the same way I did one track above... ;)
The last song on the album “Once in a Lifetime” falls into the same ´Born-in-a-rocket-in-my-arse´ -category with the first two songs on this opus, breaking speed limits like a lil´ merciless criminal as far as the main tempo of the tune is concerned. Nevertheless, I pretty much enjoyed the song after all. The guys´ technical and professional skills are undoubtedly easily above an average level, so I guess many of you who already happened to like VALLEY OF THE DAMNED, will invest your money in Dragonforce´s new album, too.