Dragonforce - The Power Within
Roadrunner Records
Speed Metal
10 songs (50'18)
Release year: 2012
Dragonforce, Roadrunner Records
Reviewed by Chris
Major event

I've been a fan of Dragonforce since day one, somehow they understood the meaning of speed metal from the beginning. I was a little worried when I heard there would be a new singer replacing ZP Theart, but quickly my fears were lifted as new singer Marc Hudson fits the band well.

My problem with the band however is I sometimes get the feeling that it's overly repetitive, that must be a side effect of the highly cranked beats per minute, and it usually takes me multiple listen for one of their album to fully sink in and making up my mind. At first listen I didn't know if I'd like The Power Within, I thought something was slightly off, but I couldn't put my finger on what that was. Now I think I do, the overall music hasn't changed drastically (but it did change nonetheless), you still get ultra melodic and highly fast guitar work, melodies flying all over the place, crying guitar harmonies, and mostly fast paced songs from beginning to end. But there is something new now... space. The overall sound spectrum seems much less busy and full, and that let's Dragonforce music breathe more now, it lets your brain focus more on the songs. You could say it makes them slower somehow, and maybe at first it may feel this way but for me it's for the best. It will take a few more listens for the album to distillate properly but for me it's always been the case with Dragonforce. It's just I like the more breathing sound they managed to find, it could be the perfect balance that allows multiple consecutive replays that I have found almost impossible to get with their older works. Don't get me wrong I love Dragonforce, and their previous album was for me the holy grail, it was the top of their career and it's still my favorite (especially the Japanese edition that has 2 or 3 killer bonus tracks !), but I like how this albums doesn't emphasize on obliterating your brain cells with a wall of sound, instead the melodies are flushed out and breathe now, it's slower at time, and it is good. Sure Dragonforce had breaks in songs before, but never did it sound like a perfect balance was struck. I get the feeling that this is the sound Dragonforce should focus on and evolve with. Fear not, the album is still mostly fast, and you'll get your fix of great riffing and amazing guitar solos (shorter ones) and melodies. Not much changed there and that's a good thing if you ask me. But now it sounds more light on the ears and I like it very much. Most songs are between 4 and 5 minutes long and that's a good 2 minutes lower than we are used to except on Wings of Liberty that clocks at 7+ minutes for old time sake, and it also the one song that reminds more of the past than the present. For now, I love the new album and there are many great songs but I find myself thinking it misses one or two songs that really fly off the roof (like say Inside The Winter Storm from Ultra Beatdown, my favorite Dragonforce song ever) and some more epic moments (not technical epicness of the guitar sort, but of the vocal melodies and bombastic impact). I like the new vocals even though they aren't far off what we are used to (I wouldn't be surprised if some fans didn't noticed the change), and I love the new aerated sound. If I had to choose though I'd say I still prefer Z P Theart a little bit. Since the songs are shorter, it means so are the guitar demonstrations, but sometimes I felt those were borderline procrastination and well, maybe a little too much focused on showing off. I'm glad they are more to the point, and of the regular length (counted in seconds, not minutes). It was impressive to have solos last 3+ minutes, but after a while it was also tiring (you somehow forgot you were listening to a song), so I'm glad these have been toned way down, Dragonforce don't need these if you ask me, first they can make instrumental tracks in their albums if they wish, and second, their guitar mastery shows within the songs, no need for everlasting solos to prove they can play guitar. And let's face it, it made trying to "play" them on Guitar Hero a very difficult, tiring and sweating task ;). The album ends on an acoustic version of Seasons, and that's a fresh take and shows that the band can be enjoyable at a normal pace, without guitars flying all over the place. A breath of fresh air there for sure.

So is it Dragonforce's best effort to date ? I cannot answer that for sure but my initial prognosis is probably not. However it feels like a milestone as the band found a sound that I find manages to deliver speed without overwhelming my earring sensors, and I like the fresher, air infused sound better. I don't think however that the album contains the best songs for the band, as it's less epic, and maybe there's another balance to be struck for the future there. But it's one solid album, it's consistent and there is no boring songs in the album . You've got to hand it to the band, cause they have been very consistent from their debut until their latest work The Power Within. I'm amazed that their old albums are still highly enjoyable after all these years, if only in small doses maybe (except Ultra Beatdown for me, as I can't get enough of !). I like the fresher breathier Dragonforce a lot, but it might still require multiple more replays until I make up my mind about where it stand compared to their previous album and compared to my personal favorite Ultra Beatdown, an album I loathed the first time I listened to it and that with each and every replay got better and better. It was maybe overly technical and too fast for it's own good sometimes, and needed time to get assimilated. But I now believe it already contained, in smaller dose, the future sound of Dragonforce that is presented here. If you want or dreamed of Dragonforce being a tad slower then you will be pleasantly surprised. But please don't judge this album if you didn't listen to it anywhere between 5 to 10 times, cause doing so wouldn't be fair. A great album from a great band, I know Dragonforce is a love or hate affair for many metal fans, you know which side I'm obviously on.

Killing Songs :
Holding On, Give me the Night, Seasons, Wings of Liberty, Heart of the Storm & Die By the Sword.
Chris quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Dragonforce that we have reviewed:
Dragonforce - Maximum Overload reviewed by Kyle and quoted 84 / 100
Dragonforce - Twilight Dementia reviewed by Jake and quoted no quote
Dragonforce - Ultra Beatdown reviewed by Ross and quoted 92 / 100
Dragonforce - Inhuman Rampage reviewed by Mike and quoted 94 / 100
Dragonforce - Sonic Firestorm reviewed by Mike and quoted 93 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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