DragonForce – Reaching into Infinity
Released: 19th May, 2017
Herman Li // Guitar, Backing Vocals
Sam Totman // Guitar, Backing Vocals
Vadim Pruzhanov // Keyboard, Keytar, Synthesizer, Backing Vocals
Frédéric Leclercq // Bass, Backing Vocals
Marc Hudson // Lead Vocals
Gee Anzalone // Drums
Lambasted for a generation by miserable metal purists incapable of fun, but revered by anyone who likes fast guitars and a damn good time, DragonForce continue to power on through their envious career at the top of the modern metal mountain with the release of a blistering and unprecedented 7th album.
Reaching into Infinity is a gargantuan epic of whatever-a-word-bigger-than-epic-is-if-it-exists proportions. Maintaining all the bewildering and wondrous melodic scale DragonForce fans have come to adore in cultish proportion, while burgeoning a more intricate pace and structure as an album. It’s cohesive and rollicking stuff from the undisputed kings of bombastic positivity and monumental musical skill. Here’s a track by track run down;
The eponymous album opener is little more than a crescendoing instrumental prologue the huge ‘Ashes of the Dawn‘. It’s a classic DragonForce structure, replete with all the familiar tropes of the six-piece; driving solos, wailing falsetto vocals, and swathes of boundless positivity. ‘Judgement Day‘ beautifully arrives with swishing and twinkling synths for its first 30 enveloping seconds, then it literally fucking explodes. I’d like to give this song a more thorough review, but the sheer gob-smacking pace of it makes it nearly impossible for human ears to ingest it. It’s so categorically awesome from start to finish that I don’t mind having to mop my face up after each listen. No other people on earth (and almost undoubtedly in subsequent solar systems and universes) will ever understand how Herman and Sam do what they do with their instruments, but Vadim on the keys is often overlooked as the soaring talent he is. Everything the two lead shredders shred, he easily both rivals and compliments with mind-bending synth action (he even casually plays parts with his tongue and teeth on stage). There’s a keyboard solo smack bang in the guts of this truly staggering musical effort that will probably make you cry from too many emotions rushing out your music enjoyment glands all at once. Fuckin’ hell. ‘Astral Empire‘ might literally be the fastest song I’ve ever heard. Remember what I wrote about the last song? This is almost twice as fast. It makes you want to climb a mountain and fight centuries-long battles with ancient deities. Come to think of it, maybe DragonForce are reincarnated souls of minstrels who oversaw the soundtrack to ethereal battles of yore. When science catches up to how good these guys are at music, there will be no disease or famine anymore. Bassist Frederic Leclercq lays out a fat pre-duelling guitar solo bass line here that will smoothly rattle the sex organs off your body, and how exactly Gee Anzalone drums at 224bpm without literally shredding his corporeal being in to pieces will remain a mystery for all of time.
‘Curse of Darkness‘ bears a very catchy similarity to Toccata & Fugue in D Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach, originally in 1703. Guitarist Herman Li informed me during a recent interview, that much of DragonForce had undertaken classical musical training in their lifetimes, and it shines through here. Am I saying that DragonForce are as good as one of the most universally acclaimed classical musicians human history has ever seen?
Yes. Yes, I am.
‘Silence‘ is the DragonForce equivalent of a ballad, and it’s bloody wonderful. Vocalist Marc Hudson’s immense vocal range is on full display here, and there’s still plenty of room for a more reserved but vital guitar solo toward the song’s climax. What can’t these guys do? ‘Midnight Madness‘ is back to full tempo action, and bears more than a passing resemblance to ‘Through the Fire and Flames‘. The great thing is, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. The lyrics seem to be about breaking through a dark place to erupt in to the light, and continue the empowering themes of being a master of your own universe that the album constantly pervades. Then there’s a crushing, break neck d-beat powerhousing through the song’s middle, before glorious synths twinkle to it’s highest peak. Another awe-inspiring wave of epic guitar follows, polished off with anthemic “Woah-ohs” to bring what is almost certainly the album’s best song to a close.
‘War!’ Starts low and sinister, like a mid-career Black Sabbath intro, then unleashes a thunderous five-minute homage to 80’s thrash metal. Ride The Lighting fans would shit a brick if they heard this ‘cartoon’ metal band tear it up so traditionally. What a ball-tearer! The thrash continues throughout ‘The Land Of Shattered Dreams‘, pock-marked with uplifting breaks and self-reflexive lyrics about freedom aplomb. Songs like this will guarantee listeners a speeding fine or two if it’s slapped on the way to work. Particularly science-fictiony synths and staccato guitars separate this from the DragonForce hit factory line in a very neat way as well. Lose yourself in it’s giganticness!
‘The Edge Of The World‘ is a staggeringly ambitious, 11 minute prog-rock finale that 100% turns previous ideas anyone might have about DragonForce on their head. It’s gargantuan and complex, deftly swapping genres, tones, tempos, and even dropping in to black metal territory with gravelly and burly vocals in the middle somewhere. This is a deftly delivered and roaring finisher to what is quickly becoming the best album this reviewer has heard in 2017.
For the uninitiated, prepare to be inspired and breathless at DragonForce’s capacity to unleash the beast without competition. For those stagnant-minded fools who are too cool or elite to listen to such fucking awesome music; put your guard down, kids. No one cares what you listen to, and DragonForce are absolutely brilliant in every capacity. May their music live for all eternity!
11. Our Final Stand
Reaching into Infinity is Out Now. Get your copy here
Review by Todd Gingell
* “I gave it 10 because it’s the best DragonForce album I’ve ever heard, and comparing DragonForce to anything else is impossible. They’ve done 10/10 DragonForcing, so I thought the number was fair.”