Thursday, May 18, 2017

Album Review: Dragonforce - Reaching Into Infinity

I feel a bit sorry for Dragonforce. Yes, they have a solid career going, but I can't see how they change the unfortunate reality they live in. For the rest of time, they will be best known as the band with that song in that video game. So even though they've made some good records and played plenty of shows, it's going to be the video game that defines their legacy. There are worse things than that, like not being remembered at all, but it dulls the enthusiasm for each passing record when you know it can't possibly be the band's defining moment.

We approach this new album on the heels of their last, which was one that showed the second lineup of the band coming together in better form, but still needing a slight tweak to hit the band's previous heights.

Dragonforce has always been about pushing the limits of speed, and they continue to do so here. That is their biggest strength, in that it gives them an identity they can own, but it also can be a weakness, since that kind of speed doesn't leave time for much interesting musical development. "Ashes Of The Dawn" is a fine opening number, but the speed means the guitars don't do anything interesting beyond chugging through the power chords. After a few songs, or seven albums in this case, it's nothing we haven't already heard Dragonforce do before.

Sure, it's impressive to hear how fast these guys are able to play, and I wouldn't want to have to be the one spitting out the chorus of "Judgment Day" in a live setting, but the hyperactive energy that would make for a thrilling live show doesn't translate to a recording. Instead of sounding energetic, the songs sometimes sound as if the band is trying to get through them because they have someone else they would rather be. Or, yes, you could also say it sounds like the LP was being played at the wrong speed.

My issues with the pacing aside, Dragonforce has been at this long enough that they know what they're doing. They race along until they get to a huge chorus, at which point they deliver the hooks with aplomb. There are plenty of big, sticky melodies here to satisfy any power metal fan. It's hard to listen to "Curse Of Darkness" and not get swept up in the wave of cheesy (not in a bad way) melodies washing over you. It's moments like that where Dragonforce shows their skill, which is considerable.

Ultimately, Dragonforce is a band that at this stage is going to deliver what you expect from them. This record is as consistent as their last, and so on and so forth. They're a solid group that knows what their fans want, and they deliver on that time and time again. There's a slight curveball in the ballad "Silence", which is excellent, but for the most part Dragonforce delivers more very good Dragonforce music. They're good at what they do. My only criticism is that I can't handle that sound in hour long increments. That's my issue, not necessarily theirs. So if you like Dragonforce, be pleased, because "Reaching Into Infinity" is a very good Dragonforce album.

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