DRAGONFORCE – Sonic Firestorm

DRAGONFORCE - Sonic Firestorm


Release date: May 11, 2004

User Review
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With a debut as strong as “Valley Of The Damned”, the Britian-based Dragonforce set the standard high and does not make it easy for themselves to follow up. Only a year later, however, the sextet is back with a new album, once again brilliantly produced by the band and Threshold’s Karl Groom. Is it true what they say – that you have your whole life to make a debut album, while making the follow up can be difficult because of stress?

Stress or not, Dragonforce gives new meaning to the word “stress”. Whereas “Valley Of The Damned” was an in-your-face melodic speed metal attack with shredding guitars – yes, you guessed it, “Sonic Firestorm” is simply that and some. “…Firestorm” sees the band establish what they were onto with the first CD, a unique expression in a genre where most bands sound the same – so take a bow for that. And the stress? Dragonforce is the fastest there is, at least in the genre labelled “lead singers with tight trousers”, and even a bit innovative, as I never heard blastbeats in this setting. These hyper-feet belong to Dave Mackintosh, who used to play with Bal-Sagoth and hopefully will save the band’s live reputation… (Honestly, Dragonforce is said to be one helluva live band, which I don’t doubt, but they still have to make up for Sweden Rock – and I am sure they will.)

Back to the CD, “Sonic Firestorm” hits you like the title suggests. But is it stronger that “Valley Of The Damned”? In some ways, Dragonforce upgrades a bit. The speed and the sound, yeah, it’s faster and sounds better – but the songwriting is not quite as strong this time around. Not as strong means: still strong enough, just not that strong. (Remember, “Valley Of The Damned” was perhaps the best debut album since Angra’s “Angels Cry”…) Favourite songs? Quite a few, the opener, “My Spirit Will Go On” is killer (the intro gives me a W.A.S.P.-feel for some reason), “Above The Winter Moonlight” is a great speed metal hymn, but the almost 10 minute epic “Soldiers Of The Wasteland” makes me want to go and join the army of the wasted (Bartender!!!). A few songs serve as time-killing before the next hymn, though, and that is why I still rate the debut higher. Just a little higher, I might add.

To sum it up: Dragonforce, with only 2 albums under their belt, is one of the true leading speed metal bands these days. Their second release sees the guys stick to their (already own) formula, just putting an even stronger trademark on it. This is a study for young guitarists, as Herman and Sam wipe the floor with most guitar duos around. “Sonic Firestorm” equals the plane that just went 6 times the speed of light. I made a comment saying the singer was the band’s weakest link last time. He does great on the new CD, though, as it seems that the songs are more written around his voice. Check singer/frontman/Curley Top ZP out on the road this spring, as Dragonforce will go on stage and make W.A.S.P. sound like doom metal in comparison – coming to a European venue near you…


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