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Album Review: DRAGONFORCE Maximum Overload

Posted by on August 18, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Dragonforce is a band that's very easily subjected to the Internet hate machine for their over-the-top power metal sound and constant accusations of using studio trickery to sound how they do at the speeds they play at. To be fair, I haven't sat down and listened to a Dragonforce album since Inhuman Rampage came out. I jammed it, I jammed the albums before it, I enjoyed them for a little while and then I got bored of them and never came back to it. Eight years later on a Wednesday, specifically July 30, I put the group's latest effort Maximum Overload on repeat all day. Literally all day… while I was at work, while I was driving to and fro, while I was sitting down writing several pieces for publication. So it's with a mind full of this record that I can say I'm not sure the band has progressed in the past eight years.

I get that a band has their sound and they'll stick to it to some degree or another. Put on any Amon Amarth record and you'll instantly know it's Amon Amarth no more than five seconds into whatever song you choose. The same goes for bands like Fleshgod Apocalypse: they're doing what they do. The difference between bands like Amon Amarth and Dragonforce is that there's some progression or identifiable trait that makes you recognize what album you're listening to. With Maximum Overload, each song has an introductory section that I could pick out as that particular song, but put on a verse or chorus and I'm completely and totally lost.

The one song I can honestly say I really enjoyed and was blown away by was "Symphonies of the Night," because the band seem to have taken the time to really sit down and pay attention to the composition and instrumentation of the song. Soaring synths, mid-paced grooves, organs… it's like Dragonforce got bored with themselves for a song and decided to change things up. Unfortunately, things go back to the way they were on the next track "Sun Is Dead" and resume being cool on "Defenders."

So not everything is boring? Well, kind of.

Here's the catch: after "Symphonies of the Night" it feels like Dragonforce realized they had a new trick in the bag and decided to use it every single chance they have. Getting bored with hyperspeed power metal on "Sun Is Dead"? Look, here's the mid-paced stuff! "Defenders" making you want to shut this record off? Oh man, do we have some clean guitars and mid-paced stuff for you! It's like when you're playing a new video game and you realize you have a second, kick ass move, so you just keep using it in conjunction with the first move you've been spamming the entire time.

Maximum Overload is self-explanatory in that it's the overload of one specific, tired sound. This is a record for fans and fans only, not someone who is looking for a band that has evolved or has even taken something from their sound and tweaked it a bit to switch things up. I didn't want to write up a bad review of a Dragonforce album. I wanted to come back after all this time and find a band that has really learned a thing or two and put out an album that would prove naysayers wrong.

I came back after eight years and found the exact same thing I left, just more of it.

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