For many, Dragonforce are seen as something of a novelty act, a guilty pleasure. With lyrics that border on the silly, odd comedic sound effects and an over-the-top care-free attitude, it’s not surprising that this is the case. Despite this, the UK-based power metallers have managed to achieve much success, playing around the world to rabid fans and selling shed-loads of albums in the process.
However, with album number five, Dragonforce have slightly shifted the goalposts. For a start, the nine tracks that make up “The Power Within” are generally shorter and with that comes a greater focus to the compositions; less frivolity, more punch. The tracks all feature the trade mark infectiously rousing choruses, indulgent solos and are naturally fast-paced.
That said, the speed is more varied this time around, meaning that “The Power Within” delivers both the quintet’s fastest and slowest compositions of their career. Additionally, the odd sound effects have been removed and, thanks to the recruitment of a guest female vocalist (Emily Ovenden of Pythia), the choral backing singing sounds much more rounded and warmer in tone. In fact, the whole album feels a lot more mature and, dare I say it, grown-up.
On the subject of vocals, Dragonforce have a new singer, in the form of Marc Hudson. Of course, there will be those that bemoan the departure of ZP ‘Zippy’ Theart but anyone who worried that the new boy, a relative unknown, wouldn’t be up to the task, think again. Within the first 30 seconds of the opening track, “Holding On”, the guy’s range is unleashed to the full, serving as a dramatic battle-cry, a statement of enormous intent.
Personal favourites include the ludicrously catchy and groovy ‘Cry Thunder’, the wonderfully immediate ‘Seasons’, that features an almost soothing melodic chorus at its midpoint and the aforementioned high octane and frenetic opener ‘Holding On’. It has to be said though that there’s barely a weak track throughout and from start to finish it makes me smile broadly.
For some, the damage has already and irrevocably been done, so will not give this album the time of day. For existing fans and those of you who, like me, have sat on the fence, give “The Power Within” a chance. Why? Because you are unlikely to be left disappointed and may even be converted.
The Power Within World Tour (UK/Ireland Dates)
With support from Alestorm, The Defiled & Cavorts
25th Dublin – Academy
27th Belfast – Mandela Hall
28th Glasgow – ABC
29th Newcastle – Academy
30th Wolverhampton – Wulfrun Hall
1st Bristol – Academy
3rd Nottingham – Rock City
4th Norwich – UEA
5th Manchester – Academy
6th London – Shepherds Bush Empire
7th Portsmouth – Pyramids