Dragonforce - Inhuman Rampage (2007)



Hailing from the U.K., Dragonforce are a lightning rod. You would be hard pressed to find anyone who listens to metal or plays video games who doesn't have an opinion of the high octane six piece. Descriptions ranging from genius to cheesy, talented to show-offs could all come from the same conversation. "Inhuman Rampage," their breakthrough album, is certainly fuel for the flames.

If you have touched a Guitar Hero game, you already have one song memorized, scrutinized and idolized. "Through The Fire And Flames" quickly became known as the arthritis inducing feature track in the popular music simulation. It plays out more as a 7 minute dueling guitar solo where other band members got bored, rather than a composed song. The drumming, played in overdrive just to keep pace, seems to be forgotten. Vocally, it walks the dangerous line of 80's hair metal and current power metal, with a hint of irony in every word. But oh, those solos.

"Revolution Deathsquad" is more of the same. Band guitarists Herman Li and Sam Totman are in command at all times keeping the gas pedal to the floor, delivering note after note at 100 mph. Li makes his guitar produce sounds that guitars simply weren't ready to make. There is something empowering in the cookie cutter lyrics, delivering a message of unity in a very over the top way. Spacey keyboards add another layer to the mix.

"Storming The Burning Fields" and "Operation Ground And Pound" do little to change the pace. Formulaic and chaotic all at once, the songs start to simply link together. By the time you realize what you've been hearing, the next three songs have come and gone. You look down at your iPod, thinking you must have hit a single 32 minute track of guitar wankery, only to find you just digested half an album without blinking.

The brakes are applied. We are now obeying the posted speed limit with the ballad "Trail Of Broken Hearts." Somewhere in a Hollywood retirement home, members of Poison are leaning back in their rocking chairs and smiling, thinking about the good ol' days. The lighters come out, and it is time to sway together. An out of place guitar solo puts the song out of its misery.

Dragonforce is not a band. They are a drug. They are the marijuana of the music world. And I applaud them for one simple reason. They are a gateway to bigger a better things. Fans of all genres of music know this band, and in particular, these songs. And when they are so carelessly lumped into the power metal label, it becomes more likely that an emo kid who plays Guitar Hero may explore other power metal bands. If it takes 4 or 5 listens of "Inhuman Rampage" to get a Blind Guardian, Stratovarius, Helloween or Iron Maiden album into someones hands, so be it. You have to start somewhere.

4/10

Official Site - http://www.dragonforce.com/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/dragonforce