It’s hard to imagine living in a world without mighty DragonForce. They have been such a staple in my musical diet for over two decades, it’s getting hard to recall what Metal was like before them. Just after the turn of the century, they were so critical to making Metal fun again and even more importantly were almost single-handedly responsible for making it cool to play at light-speed and have lots of guitar solos again! DragonForce, the band that literately invented extreme Power Metal are back with their eighth album called fittingly enough, EXTREME POWER METAL.
I like EXTREME POWER METAL better than the last album a couple of years back and that is largely due to guitarist, Sam Totman getting more of his songs on the album. I just like his style a bit better. A parallel example of a band with two guitarists with slightly different writing styles would be might be Helloween during the 90’s when you had some albums influenced more by Roland Grapow and some more by Michael Wiekath. In this case Sam Totman had very little writing influence on REACHING INTO INFINITY and EXTREME POWER METAL is by far a Sam Totman album with Herman Li almost completely locked out from writing credits. From my perspective this meant of a bit more of a return to a fun, lighted hearted sound. Another little clue is that the cover tune on the last album was ‘Evil Dead’ by Death(!) of all bands and on this album it is a pop cover of a song called ‘My Heart Will Go On’, popularized by Canadian song-bird Celine Dion, and perhaps even moreso by the blockbuster movie, Titanic. Night and day in terms of choice and the more lighted-hearted mood is reflected all across EXTREME POWER METAL, even the cover art, design and layout, is a homage to 80’s videogame style, all hot pink and buzzing neon.
There haven’t been too many changes, the band is still with EarMusic and it is the same line-up as last album. The production is still ultra-clear, bright and shiny and sterile and of course speed is the name of the game. I like the new look and style, there are many, many bands jumping on the extreme Power metal bandwagon, from Pathfinder and Titanium to Victorious and countless more adapting and adopting characters into their persona, Gloryhammer being a prime example of such and I love it! Lyrically the band takes a bit of a stab at a more serious ‘real-world’ topic with ‘Remembrance Day’, (with a some Gaelic pipes!) but by and large the lyrics are the usual fantasy/Sci-fi stuff like ‘RazorBlade Meltdown’, The Last Dragonborn’ and ‘Cosmic Power Of The Infinite Shredmachine’ . Track five, ‘Troopers of The Stars’ has most of the New Zealand-based, Blackened Death/Thrash band, Bulletbelt providing back-up vocals. Totman is a kiwi as well so they are probably old buddies of his from the day when he was in Demoniac. Speaking of vocals, Marc Hudson sounds as good as ever with his range and power still intact and the thought of ZP Theart is now a distant memory.
The band, who I said earlier basically invented this style has proven once again they are leaders! EXTREME POWER METAL is one of the more fun albums I heard in 2019 making it into my Top 5 at position #4.