Being part of the generation of American youth that was born in the mid-1990s, Dragonforce came to my attention because of the XBOX game Guitar Hero. I don’t have an XBOX (or any videogame console) of my own, but I do play them when I’m at a friend’s house. Other than that, I just had a couple of games I would play on my computer (currently it’s just Minecraft). I honestly think that the majority of Dragonforce fans know that the band owes their fame to the Guitar Hero video game. The song that is on Guitar Hero is Through the Fire and Flames. And all you have to do is listen to the song to realize how big of a deal it was if someone got a score of 85% or higher with this song on the “expert” level. Of course I do believe that they did have a good sized fan base before their recognition skyrocketed, but when you think of it, it’s kind of pathetic knowing that you’re fame was made possible by a freaking video game.
My friend came to me one day; I think I was in 5th or 6th grade. He went on YouTube and showed me this song, and honestly, I really didn’t like it. This was before my interest in the extreme metal genres, although I had already started listening to a handful of death metal bands out there like Suffocation, Insision, Obituary, Scar Symmetry, Cryptopsy, and Arch Enemy. Even then, I hadn’t really heard anything as fast as this (I was still in my 70s progressive rock/heavy metal phase). So I really didn’t like it and heard nothing but instruments playing random notes as fast as they could.
Literally about two and a half years passed by before I thought about Dragonforce again. By the time I gave them a second go, I was listening to a lot of metal (mainly nu metal). I had fallen in love with new records coming out like Lamb of God’s Wrath, Blooddrunk by Children of Bodom, Holographic Universe by Scar Symmetry, and Awaken the Dreamers by All Shall Perish. I couldn’t find a copy of this album, but I got ahold of the mediocre Sonic Firestorm. I was minimally impressed, although I did like the song Fury of the Storm. But I wanted a taste of their best material! I then remembered that I could most likely find it on YouTube. So I found Through the Fire and Flames, listened to it, and was blown away.
Even to this day, I am still amazed by the seven-and-a-half minute masterpiece. But there’s one problem, the rest of the album sounds pretty much the same. Obviously this band has talent and mad skills when it comes to speed. The acoustic guitar intro at the beginning of the song is actually keyboards, and the switch from a driving, angry sound to a beautiful melodic powerful sound is one of those things that make me smile. The vocalist puts an unbelievably huge amount of emotion into his singing, which is something I love to see and is also something that isn’t that common. The band is very tight, well-practiced, and creative. The first song isn’t repetitive at all even though it has a traditional radio-friendly structure (besides the length). But there’s one problem I have with this album: the rest of the songs aren’t as good and they all sound the same. When I first got my hands on this CD, I listened to it constantly and got tired of it after about...maybe four days. Of course I never got tired of this song, but it seems that the band is putting most of their focus on speed Speed SPEED!!
Of course this was right before I became aware of the release of Ultra Beatdown, a huge improvement in the band’s musicality. So this was the only album by them I listened to.
The most known member of the band is their Asian lead guitarist. I consider him (and is known as) faster than any other rock or metal guitarist that has ever lived. Most consider him to be the fastest guitarist PERIOD, but look around the interwebs and see how fast some of the classical guitarists can play. I (and apparently a lot of others) think that he’s majorly overrated and has received far too much credit and awards than what he has deserved. His solos all pretty much sound the same because it’s just constant shredding. But there is still a lot of improvisation involved. Improvisation is very hard, it’s even harder to make it sound (even a little) different every time. Some people just have a natural talent for it (I’m not one of those people, mainly because I don’t know scales and other theory stuff like that). But you at least have to give him some credit for being able to play so damn fast.
Overall, this album is very enjoyable to listen to…every couple of months. After listening to it once, I can’t listen to it for at least two months or so because if I listen to it again too soon, it bores the hell out of me and I’ll switch right to a Firewind album to give me something more interesting to listen to. The only truly good song on this album is the first one (I think I’ve made that clear enough already). But if you haven’t heard this record yet, I highly suggest that you do, because despite what I said, it truly is a one-of-a-kind record. I would give this a solid score of 11/20.