Pros: the speed, the power, the metal influences of yesteryear
Cons: repeat value...whatever (shrugs shoulders)
The band formed in 1999 and has one of the most multicultural line-ups Ive ever seen. Members of the band and guest musicians are from 5 different countries: France, Ukraine, South Africa, Hong Kong, and England. In the beginning, DragonForce was proudly promoted as the World's Fastest Melodic Speed Power Metal Newcomer! The question one might then ponder after reading such a bold statement is: Can this actually be true? The key word here is newcomer, because others certainly may lay claim to the title of fastest performers in the world. But DragonForce do in fact play some of the fastest melodic speed power metal youre ever going to hear this side of the Milky Way.
DragonForce basically play music of the Hyper-Speed Power Metal genre. All of the Speed Metal bands I know put a lot of emphasis on catchy melodies and intricate, fast guitar riffs and solos. Theres simply no better way to describe the music of DragonForce than that. There are plenty of double bass drums and rollicking guitar riffs and solos on Inhuman Rampage to keep most hyper-speed power metal enthusiasts happy. Also, there is a very pleasing amount of "variety" to be heard on this album. Just because the band is labeled fast doesnt mean everything is done at lightning hyper speed tempos. There is the obligatory ballad and then there are those sudden unusual time changes that appear out of nowhere, all helping to keep the flow of the songs interesting and less predictable.
Many people who dont get this genre and style of music tend to accuse power metal bands of lacking originality and creating nothing but more of the same music time and time again with very little progression from one album to the next. The thing is, the exact same argument can be said just about any artist playing in any one particular genre and style of music, from country music stars, to hip hop, to rap and/or mainstream rock stars. Theyre all pushing the same kind of music, over and over, album after album. The way I see it, you either like a certain particular genre and style of music or you dont. Its as simple as that. Bands such as Green Carnation who seldom release the same album twice, that is with the same genre and style of music we come to associate with a band are a very rare breed, and "they" are - IMHO - the only true treasures of the world.
Anyway, on this outing, DragonForce uses keyboards to very good effect, perhaps a little better than on previous offerings. The fact that they have a fulltime keyboardist now may have a lot to do with the new atmospheric elements and the 80s influence dynamics to their music. Youll find the band using an occasional female voice and some relatively infrequent harsh vocal style as well. Also, youll find some extraordinary guitar work on just about every track, but particularly on the first half of the album. And do check out the astonishing dual guitar and keyboard solo work on Storming the Burning Fields. Theres also a hint of 80s hair metal on this track and on Operation Ground and Pound as well, maybe more influences here from the hair metal days of old than I care to discuss...but yes, youll recognize those distinct hair raising moments when you hear them. lol
Out of curiosity, I used the MixMeister BPM Analyzer and compared the average beats per minute of each song on Inhuman Rampage with the music of similar speed/power metal bands. While most of the songs here are played at the 100 BPM (Beats Per Minute) with two above the 150 BPM, I must admit that I was a little surprised about the lack of variety in BPM when compared to similar acts. For instance, Nocturnal Rites music ranges between 85 BPM and 158 BPM with most of it falling in between the 130 to 150 BPM range. Savage Circus was from 92 to 180 BPM, Sonata Arctica 82 to 160 BPM and Gamma Ray from 89 to 144 BPM. None of these bands had two songs with the exact same BPM rate while DragonForce had 4 of 8 songs set at 100 BPM sharp. Of course, this BPM comparison doesnt prevent any one of these bands from cramming 32 or 64 notes per measure, I was just merely pointing out the apparent lack of variety in song BPM on hand here...
1. Through the Fire and Flames 7m21s 100 BPM 9/10
2. Revolution Deathsquad 7m52s 100 BPM - 8/10
3. Storming the Burning Fields 5m19s 100 BPM 9/10
4. Operation Ground and Pound 7m44s 100 BPM 9/10
5. Body Breakdown 6m58s 91.73 BPM 8/10
6. Cry for Eternity 8m12s 110 BPM 7/10
7. The Flame of Youth 6m41s 162 BPM 7/10
8. Trail of Broken Hearts 5m57s 150 BPM - 8/10
ZP Theart Lead and backing vocals
Herman Li Lead and rhythm guitars, backing vocals
Sam Totman Lead and rhythm electric guitars, backing vocals
Vadim Pruzhanov Keyboards, Piano, backing vocals
Dave Mackintosh Drums, backing vocals
Additional Guest Musicians:
Adrian Lambert Bass
Clive Nolan Backing vocals
Lindsay Dawson Evil backing vocals
The DragonForce formula is rather simple: fill album with catchy tunes, with beautiful melodies and blissful choruses, and then stuff as many solos as you can in each song, all the while keeping everything very uplifting and dont forget to do it all really, really fast. The first half of the album is all done at hyper speed, so I love the fact that they incorporate some occasional tempo changes within the songs. The second half, beginning with the soothing atmospheric Body Breakdown is a little more varied.
The mid paced Flame of Youth was a welcome change of pace when compared with the rest of the album. The first time I heard Trail of Broken Hearts, I was immediately reminded of Sonata Arctica, in fact so much so that one might actually mistake both bands as one and the same.
When you visit DragonForces official website, youll find some free MP3 samples, actually the music starts automatically and you can toggle between tunes using the player on the top left corner of their home page:
Inhuman Rampage is also an enhanced CD with behind the scene video footage while the band was on tour in Japan and Europe 2005. Nice little bonus, Japanese fans do love Speed Power Metal, perhaps the biggest fan base of the genre in the world today! The windows theme package is mostly for die hard fans only.
In an attempt to find a better way of rating albums, Ive devised a new rating system based on the repeat value of the music found on any given album. Why the emphasis on repeat value? Well, good music is subjective. What one considers to be good music may not be so good to another. What I have found over the years is that the albums I keep going back to are often the ones that contain music I cant seem to get enough of. Thus the repeat value of the music is the most important element, it is in fact the single most important point that makes me return to the music time and time again. So, how does this all translate into a one to five star rating system? Actually, quite easily:
1/5 Worthless album, no repeat value at all, bored after the very first spin! Theres no need to extend a probationary listening period as the album is not going to get any better with time. (Ill never be able to review such an album because I cant bring myself to listen to it again, or more than once anyway.)
2/5 Some tracks on this album have some repeat value, but they are few and far between. Besides, youll tire of it fast, sometime during the first month of the probationary listening period.
3/5 Average repeat value, but the flair of the new and original will wear off after 25 spins or near the end of the 3 month probationary listening period, whichever comes first.
4/5 This album will still be on high rotation in your CD player after 50 spins or long after the probationary listening period has come and gone.
5/5 Youll never tire of this album. In your mind, it is a classic in the genre and style of music it stands for. No question about it, a masterpiece!
I gave Inhuman Rampage a three (3) star rating cause like their previous two albums, I suspect that the music will wear off after 25 or so spins. I would have previously rated this album a very solid 4 stars, because of musicianship, technicality, music composition, vocals and production. But, I believe my new rating system will give the albums I review a better and much more accurate evaluation of the repeat value of the music. Inhuman Rampage contains some very good - maybe even excellent - speed power metal, but the repeat value is questionable, and in my view it certainly doesnt have the charm of Sonata Arcticas Silence.
Recommended to fans of the genre!