DRAGONFORCE
"Inhuman Rampage"

(Roadrunner)

01. Through the Fire and Flames
02. Revolution Deathsquad
03. Storming the Burning Fields
04. Operation Ground and Pound
05. Body Breakdown
06. Cry for Eternity
07. The Flame of Youth
08. Trail of Broken Hearts

RATING: 7.5/10

Should one believe the hype about DRAGONFORCE's extreme power metal prowess? Has the PR engine blown out of proportion the band's lightning quick shred fests and soaring melodic vocal passages? Probably, but that doesn't mean that the boys aren't a well-oiled machine. The members of DRAGONFORCE are immensely talented, the songwriting is good, if a tad too familiar after about 15 minutes, and the musical package is pretty goddamn tight. As for the "Inhuman Rampage", there is nothing here that would dissuade fans of predecessor "Sonic Firestorm" from glomming on to the new platter of brawn and bombast. Whether you fancy the band the height of power metal orgasm depends a great deal on what you consider to be ballsy, excessive, musically stimulating, or perhaps all three.

Some of us, myself included, find the U.K.-based band to be a bit much, yet cannot help but marvel at the talent on display on "Inhuman Rampage". It is true, opinions are like assholes. Still others will wet themselves at what will be perceived as the second coming of Christ. The speed at which guitarists Herman Li and Sam Totman fire off riff fusillades and precision solos, matched with the equally speedy keyboards of Vadim Pruzhanov and the impossibly tight drumming of Dave Mackintosh, is just friggin' mind-blowing. And save for the album-closing ballad "Trail of Broken Hearts", which is mildly amusing, the first seven tracks leave no room whatsoever to catch a breath. Even with the high pitched croon of ZP Theart and the sky-high melodic choruses, if one is not prepared for the onslaught of speed and technical proficiency, the result can be as nerve-fraying as it is orgasmic to the tech-loving musician and the power metal aficionado.

Shall we break down each compositional nuance and splice up the arrangements into tiny bits then? Absolutely not. What we can say is that songs like "Through the Fire and Flames", "Revolution Deathsquad", or "Cry for Eternity" (hell, the first seven of these eight long tracks for that matter) sport catchy choruses and miles of six-string wankery, spastic keyboard runs, and fast-forward drumming. Though the band's ever-growing fan base will recognize each of the tracks as a classic more memorable than the fall of the Berlin Wall, the fact of the matter is that the band sticks rather closely to a formula, and that is not to be taken as a negative criticism. While technically impressive and above average from the standpoint of melody, the choruses are not so dissimilar from one another as to result in distinct classics of the genre. The musical excess can sometimes get in the way of the core melodies, but the same could be said of similar bands. It all comes down to feeling and personal preference anyway.

The only question remaining then concerns whether "Inhuman Rampage" will become a timeless power metal classic. In the spirit of vagueness and cop-out answers, that depends on your point of view. Personally, I can take it or leave it. Be that as it may, "Inhuman Rampage" is a fine representation of the steroid-pumped end of the genre and DRAGONFORCE is a fierce heavy metal band.

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