ALBUM REVIEW : DRAGONFORCE — Reaching Into Infinity
DragonForce has been driving up the power metal real estate market for over a decade. You love them or hate them, but you know them; their unique guitar solos’ sound is recognized by all and have earned guitarists Sam Totman and Herman Li much coveted places in the shrine of shred. Also, Guitar Hero, yes.
In 2011, from the ashes of ex-vocalist ZP Theart’s legacy rose Marc Hudson and DragonForce was reborn with a new voice. Reaching Into Infinity is Hudson’s 3rd album with the band, and the quality of what they put out with the singer has been consistent since The Power Within, his first contribution. Reaching Into Infinity is also the band’s first studio album with their new drummer, Gee Anzalone, who is doing a stellar job at keeping the band tight and at top speed.
This new record storms in with epic anthems typical of DragonForce, but also a few surprising elements, which makes it well worth a listen for hardened old schoolers who so far found no room for the English band in their hearts.
The album starts strong with the instrumental intro and title track “Reaching Into Infinity,” followed by the first single/video release “Ashes of the Dawn”. The album keeps its pace all the way into the ending of “Curse Of Darkness” (a song with dark undertones seemingly inspired by Castlevania - it has to be!) only to be brought to a halt by the rare encounter of a heartfelt DragonForce ballad.
“Silence” is not the kind of song I expected on this album, but it is a heart-wrenching story of a cry for help that is relatable to so many. In this song, Marc Hudson's voice shines in a vulnerable and soulful way that is out of the ordinary. Given that DragonForce generally seems to feed on the fantastical and the vast universe for inspiration, for them to include such a personal and inward-looking song is a bold move. Because it is in that sense almost out of place, the emotional pull of the song is strong and I found it to be rather impressive.
The following “Midnight Madness” brings the audience back to their perky selves, but it’s what comes next that took me aback, even moreso than “Silence”; the song “WAR!” in which DragonForce brings forth some serious thrashing. No lies!
While we’re on the subject of the band stepping out of its comfort zone, the song “The Edge of the World” takes a change of pace shortly after the 6-minute mark into a heavy, death metal-esque display of aggression with harsh vocals to boot (rumored to be courtesy of bassist extraordinaire Frédéric Leclercq) which may surprise many.
DragonForce - "Ashes of the Dawn"
Despite all this, one of the most impressive songs on Reaching Into Infinity is a creation of pure traditional DragonForce sound, however it is only found on the limited edition version of the album. “Hatred and Revenge” roars with the ferocity of an advancing army, and a catchy melodic chorus perfect for crowd sing-alongs. This song has the potential to become their new live anthem, if the band wills it.
Of course, the album would not be complete without a last surprise. Enter “Evil Dead”. Yet another display of the musicians’ versatility and talent, DragonForce kept this treat for the limited version of the album as well. “Evil Dead” is a straight heavy metal little number somewhat reminiscent of Judas Priest’s “Painkiller” - I would not say this lightly, so you better believe. It’s fast, heavy, and gritty. There are many more like it, but this one is DragonForce’s; it retains their spirit while honoring the old gods, and it’s the mix of both that makes me love this song so much.
This band has a legacy to uphold, and with every album comes the challenge of outdoing themselves and keeping ravenous fans satisfied. Their talent is undeniable - their spirit apparently unbreakable. Yet again they proved their worth and showed that no matter what you throw at DragonForce, through the fire and the flames they’ll carry on.
DRAGONFORCE — Reaching Into Infinity
Release date: May 19, 2017