Guitar Hero gods are back in full flight, with a brand new album full of power metal to present to their fans. The question is, will the new album stand up to the hype and legacy?
You know, I love the fact that speed metal is somewhat more mainstream than it was say ten a years ago when it was reserved for Power Rangers and other horrible action fiction TV series montages and fight scenes involving cardboard cities and giant monsters and robots. We have Guitar Hero to thank for that I suppose, but either which way Dragonforce seem to have become a household name since Through the Fire and the Flames was released.
However, that's a pretty big benchmark to set in the early years of your career, and now with the release of The Power Within the big question is whether or not it stacks up against the rest of their catalogue. And he answer is... Sort of.
I liken this album to a typical dance song. fantastic middle section, but the intro is often pretty shaky as if it doesn't really matter. That's exactly what hit me instantly about this album - the first two tracks seem to be unfinished. Some jarring moments, decisions in orchestration that just dont really work. However come track three, 'cry thunder' and that all changes.
The speed metal influences don't just stick their head into the light for the first coherently good time on the album, they take over. it's this section that you instantly see how the band has matured and taken their previous knowledge and stylings to the next level. They've also taken on some progressive influences with key changes and different melodies taking place than their previous work. It also seems to be a little less 'how fast can I actually play' and a little more 'can I do that live?'
This was one of the problems I had with Dragonforce after seeing them live a couple of years back. Their songs were so heavily produced with many layers that pulling it off live was difficult to say the least. Hearing the live practice on this album though, has proven that they've started to think about live shows. And if I can say, they nail the track With no issues at all. With any luck the next few albums will do the same.
Even the acoustic track from the deluxe edition is brilliant, showcasing a side of the band that I think secretly all fans of the band had wanted to hear for some time. The vocal harmonies are spot on, and the track is mixed perfectly - which is a lot harder than you'd think on an acoustic track.
There's no doubt that the Guitar Hero franchise did a lot to help this band get to where they are today. I mean, the talent of the members is a definite reason they were able to make such complex tunes, but their fan base definitely stems from the red-blue-green pressers. So with songs like 'Through the fire and flames' and 'heroes of our time' somewhat setting the standard for the rest of their career, it's an already very high benchmark to try and beat.
I can't say they've beat it, but they've certainly kept their sound and their legacy in tact, despite taking the smart option to keep the tracks at a live standard and, baring the first two tracks, this album is simply a must buy for any fans of the band, or any new comers to the genre.
Despite the benchmark the band set with their previous power metal anthems, this album holds its own and could every well go on to produce a few more anthems to blast out your television set, whilst uttering 'red, green green blue red orange...'
Review Score: 7.5 out of 10