Dragonforce – ‘Reaching Into Infinity’ (Album Review)
Dragonforce are the kings of unrestrainable speed. 2006’s Inhuman Rampage kicked off with the legendary Through The Fire And Flames – the hardest song on Guitar Hero, and pretty fucking tough on actual guitar as well. Fast-forward to 2014’s Maximum Overload and The Game, a 240-bpm monster, and you have to ask: How can these guys push the boat out even further?
On Reaching Into Infinity, Dragonforce have the answer – and it doesn’t lie solely in standout song Judgement Day’s tempo. Fans of Dragonforce’s melodic thrash side will be more than satiated by the bulk of Reaching Into Infinity, but these guys have found new ways to push beyond their comfort zones even after six albums.
Two words: Dynamics, and Groove.
Those capitalisations are well-deserved, especially within the context of a Dragonforce song. Judgement Day starts off with a poppy synth intro; listen to that part in isolation, and you’d never expect it to be followed by the insane barrage of notes and beats that lie just around the corner. Later on, during a sick and tasty synth solo, the imaginary dial marked Groove gets turned up several notches – and the results bode well for Dragonforce’s future.
Whether making space for an awesome bass solo during Astral Empire, a brief acoustic section during Curse Of Darkness, more acoustic lushness on power ballad Silence, and synth-and-bass-heavy breaks for Midnight Madness, or stretching to the opposite extreme during The Edge Of The World (where some borderline-death-metal is contrasted with string-mimicking volume swells during Dragonforce’s 11-minute longest tune to date), Dragonforce have made it clear that they’re not running dry in the ideas department. WAR! also tends towards serious brutality, but it’s still a major weak spot due to some lame lyrics (“War/Now this is war/Straight from the core…We won’t take it anymore”). Closing bonus track Evil Dead, on the other hand, digs out some inhuman screams, beyond-warp-speed riffage, and a hilarious comedy-bass-and-video-game-effect climax – returning us to the infinite unknowable.
After Reaching Into Infinity, where can Dragonforce reach next? Personally, I’d love to hear more groove-based sections (given solid foundations by new drummer Gee Anzalone), more playfulness, more progressive structural expansion, and more brutality. When Dragonforce play fast, you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s them – but Reaching Into Infinity also indicates their potential to do the same at any speed.
90% (Essential Listening!)
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Reaching Into Infinity drops May 18; preorder it on iTunes here.