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Ultra Beatdown (CD/DVD) Special Edition, Extra tracks
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As Dragonforce, the multi-national Power Metallers based in London, prepare to release their fourth album, nobody who understands the world of Metal can have any doubt that 'Ultra Beatdown' will propel the band into becoming a Major Global phenomenon'. If 'Valley Of The Damned' established the sextet's fearless credentials in 2003, then 'Sonic Firestorm' ('04) and 'Inhuman Rampage' ('06) each took them further forward. In fact, the last named has now sold in excess of 300,000 copies in America alone (certified Silver in the UK), with the inclusion of the manic shred-fest of 'Through The Fire And Flames' in the 'Guitar Hero' game powering Dragonforce into being the most successful new British metal act in America for two decades! The process in creating the new album began an amazing 18 months ago with a brief break at the 2007 for the 'Black Crusade' European Tour."We didn't ever feel as if there was a time scale involved here. We just did whatever it took to make this the best album of our career to date," insists guitarist Herman Li. "Our songs develop, evolve and change as we go along. It makes the studio an interesting place, because we'll come up with new ideas all the time.Lyrically, we're taking a look at life and what goes on in the world, but doing this in the usual Dragonforce way!"
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I read a lot of negative stuff on these guys saying that they can't write decent songs (which I totally disagree with) and that the guitarists enhance their parts in the studio with multiple layering and Pro Tools gimmicks, but I have never seen any discussions on the drumming. How in the hell can a drummer play that fast and precise??? I used to be a thrash metal drummer (albeit not a very good one), and I simply cannot fathom the thought of any human being able to play a double kick that fast and handling intricate fills that quickly and perfectly. If anything, I think that the drumming is mostly computer programmed (even more so than the guitar parts)!
I also read a lot that they cannot pull this stuff off live. That may or may not be the case, but also remember that the Beatles stopped touring in '66 because they new that they couldn't re-create their studio stuff in a live atmosphere as well and no one held that against them. I have tix to see them live in November, so I guess I'll find out then.
All in all, I think that these guys are great for the metal community in general. Wouldn't you all rather see a long haired teenage kid in a Dragonforce t-shirt than sporting some lame rap or Emo band nonsense? Returning and keeping the faith!!!
A listen to any sample will likely give you a good idea of whether or not this band is for you. I own Inhuman Rampage as well, but like Ultra Beatdown better.
Turn it up to 11 and rock out...
There are a lot of good reviews of this album here already. I'd like to second a couple of things...
1: Sure enough, these guys seem to have a bag of words like "Warriors, Eternity, Victorious, Freedom, Fire, Storm" and so on, and juggle them up to come up with their lyrics and song titles. I can live with it for now, but for how long can this continue?
2: Ah yes, the drumming. Another reviewer mentions that we all talk about the guitars, but what about the drumming? The drumming - real or machine or whatever it is - is just great on this album.
What I like about Dragonforce is that despite the blazing speed of it all and the general madness that is power metal gone mad... there are still tunes you can hum/sing/massacre, catchy hooks and melodies that would not be out of place in a pop song.
I also love the production and construction of Dragonforce songs... They begin powerfully, move through the song part to the monster solo/instrumental bits with grace, and end with a bang or a flourish.
This album sees Dragonforce trying a few more styles, getting a bit mellow in places, and some of the songs try several different moods along the way. This patchwork quality (which only works if you are writing "Bohemian Rhapsody") is where the album can come a little unstuck sometimes.
What's good here is the production has progressed still further, and the Dragonforce sound is fantastically slick, powerful and clean. The highlights of Ultra Beatdown for me are some of the ripping instrumental sections, choice examples appearing in "The Fire Still Burns", "The Journey Home" and "Inside the Winter Storm".
The fact that Dragonforce have managed to make four decent albums and keep evolving is a wonderful thing in this day and age. I just hope these guys manage to bring a little more sophistication to their songwriting without losing the madness and magic!
They are still one of the most amazing bands on the planet and just inches away from being the most powerful force in the universe.
If you're new to Dragonforce (maybe you tried to play their song on Guitar Hero III), Dragonforce is a little different from most other metal bands. They are extremely talented musically: from singer through instrumentalists, I have never heard another band capable of playing so fast, so long, and yet so melodically. On earlier releases, 2-, 3-, and even 4-minute long hyperspeed solos (guitar as well as bass and keyboard) were no rarity; on this release, they mix it up more but without losing who they are.
So if you - like me before I found Dragonforce - sometimes catch yourself wishing a solo you heard was just a bit (or a lot!) longer, or that a fast part of a song *was* most of the song, you're probably going to like Dragonforce a lot. Their singing is great too; some metal fans want growly and barely understandable, but I really like Dragonforce's singer as is, and he should be commended for keeping up with the rest of this apparently hyper-caffeinated outfit!
PS the bonus songs are worth getting, if only for the how-can-they-possibly-play-this-fast solo on the final song.