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Old 12-18-2011, 11:01 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Derbyshire
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Default Inhuman Rampage – Dragonforce – 2004

Part 2¼


So far I have reviewed mildly listenable music, such as Coldplay and Nirvana. But today I have a different kind of album to wrangle. In their entire career, Dragonforce must be one of the only bands I’ve ever come across to have only ever had one idea. Basically, summed up it amounts to: “we are on an arduous quest.” I know most power metal bands do the same, but these guys use exactly the same few words to describe it in every single song. I cannot convey the boredom this causes. Stratovarius liven up their songs with clever witticisms and changing tempos, Blind Guardian have the advantage of using different kinds of inspiration for each song, but no such luxury is available with Dragonforce.

To give you an idea of what a typical Dragonforce song will sound like, imagine three power chords accompanied by a chromatic scale played very fast (to do this you just run your finger up the guitar string as fast as you like), followed by lines which will use various permutations of the words “pain”, “evil”, “quest”, “burning”, “tortuous”, “dragons”, “torturing”, “burnt”, “waaaah”, “falling”, “rising”, “oooooh” and of course “babyshambles”.
Basically, all that is cheesy and related to fantasy Xbox games will be sung about here. And if you like cheesy metal, this is not the band for you either. These guys are much bigger nerds than you. Much bigger.

What drives me to despair is that when people wish to give an example of a “technically talented” metal band, they will almost always refer to Dragonforce. It strains my capillaries that “technical”, “talent” and “Dragonforce” should ever be mentioned in the same sentence. It is equivalent to talking about “electronegativity of polar bonds” in the same sentence as “bedwetting”. It just doesn’t belong in that conversation. I have the entire discography of Dragonforce, I have faithfully attended all of their concerts when they were in the area (and slipped out when Disturbed and Slipknot came on…), and can truthfully say that I have never heard Herman Li of Sam Totman successfully play an arpeggio or complete a proper scale. They have no more technical ability in guitar work than a gecko. They have as much chance in crafting a coherent tune on the keyboard as my goldfish.
No, technical talent is not their forte.

Analysis: A Study into the Mechanics of Dragonforce’s Music

After many years of pondering (I’ve followed their work since I was 11), many months of study of the skills behind successful guitar playing, many days of studying the life history of all the band members, many nights spent half awake in feverish delirium, many hours of watching and analysing live recordings I’d taken of close ups of the guitar players, analysing from all different angles and replayed in slow motion to perfectly assess the wrist action and finger-picking technique of both lead guitarists, I can confidently announce that the results of this intense and dedicated project: Sam Totman is a cock.

All they do is place their hands on the frets and strum frantically whilst moving their fingers wildly up and down the strings. True. I’m sorry for the coarse comparison, but the only metaphor for the style is guitar-wanking.
Let’s sum this up in a serious way: fast playing does not equal good playing. Random slashing does not equal technical playing. Chromatic scales on a guitar are not impressive, because you play every note without having to change the shape of your wrist. True.

I shall now put myself through the misery of reviewing an actual Dragonforce album. It’s their best, so I shall not be making to damning a judgement.

Inhuman Rampage

Track 1: Through The Fire And Flames: Fits in exactly with the earlier description: three power chords accompanied by a chromatic scale played very fast. The song doesn’t seem to be saying that much either, some nonsense about “evil laughter falls around the world tonight”. As we build up to a climax, we are treated to the line: “and now we stand with these words in our heads/and now that we can understand/I’ll break the seal of this curse if I possibly can/for freedom of every MAN!!!” [wild chromatic chaos follows]. If you didn’t think that was that bad, remember that you will have to put up with this nonsense for the rest of this album. Salami Scale: 1/10

Track 2: Revolution Deathsquad: More over-aggressive power chords and a fairly kick-ass solo. Not that bad, to be frank, but not good enough for me to single it out for anything.
Salami Scale: 5/10

Track 3: Storming The Burning Fields: Astute listeners will know that the title of this song is a line from “Operation Ground and Pound”. I’ve been doing this too long, haven’t I? Basically, this sums up the song. It seems that they liked “Operation Ground and Pound” so much they thought they’d make a longer version. Although what will really grab you by the scrotum with this song is the wicked sound effect of a match being lighted at the beginning. Wow, a sound effect! I feel like I’ve had my ears filled with popcorn. And if you listen to it as well, you will feel exactly the same.
This awesome sound effect is followed by some very ominous power chords and then more chromatic foolery. What really stands out about this song is the excessive use of the wah pedal. Every note seems to have it! Totman’s feet must be flying around like a fight with Chuck Norris.
Salami Scale: 2/10 Blatant refusal to think up anything new, but I dig the sound effect.

Track 4: Operation Ground and Pound: Guess what? This song ROCKS. I’d play it in through the loudspeakers all the way up to the Lake District if I had a car. The intro is awesome, the drums are powerful, and the guitar work is formidable. The solo works its way up to a nail biting climax where Totman really dazzles us. Then for the final chorus they shift up a semitone like “Livin’ On a Prayer”, and really go wild. It’s everything a power metal song ought to be. Am I serious? Yes. It’s incredible. What’s he saying? Who cares?
The only downside is the awful video, which features (I kid you not), Totman and Li having a Guitar Hero battle. I won’t post it, because the cheese WILL KILL YOU. You will be poisoned by the cheesiness of the video in seconds.
Salami Scale: 10/10. Easily. Here's a video with just the music:

Track 5: Body Breakdown: I think the line: “I can feel the breakdown of my body!!” sums up this song for me. If it was, you’d be in hospital, not performing live in front of hundreds of people.
Salami Scale: -1/10: When you have a ridiculous idea, start a facebook group, not a band.

Track 6: Cry For Eternity: Holy turd! This song’s intro starts in ¾ time instead of the usual “drummer bashes away as fast as he can like a machine gun” approach. I forgot to mention the general lack of structure or timbre in Dragonforce songs, but here, we have a brief section of rhythm! Not for long of course. It soon descends back into general carelessness, with the machine gun starting up again, drowning out the drummer for good, but I will always remember that this is the song that tried to be musically different. The words are more of the same “oh the pain of this quest” crap, in case you were wondering. That intro was a breath of fresh air. Hopefully the rest will be good too.
Who cares at this point?: Really bored now. Can I pretend that this one was great too, just to make myself feel better?
Man that was swell, just like the last one.
Salami Scale: 10/10

Track 7: Flame of Youth: This song is like a better version of “Body Breakdown”. Imagine the intro to “Body Breakdown” played with feeling. Still pretty awful, but I detect a general improvement in the way the album is progressing, there are actually tunes developing now. And they do that semitone shift again, like “Woman in Love”, for want of a better example. Surprisingly interesting, with the moderately humorous line: “Cry out for the foreign hero/lost in time ago” with some idiot roaring like Gollum in the background. Not bad, actually!
Salami Scale: 8/10 A solid effort.

Track 8: Trail of Broken Hearts: If you don’t listen to any other of Dragonforce’s stuff, I urge you to listen to just this. It is their only song I don’t hate. Even Unknown Soldier liked the keyboard section. And he hates Dragonforce more than incest. The drummer slows down, for once in his life, and there is indeed a discernible tune, even if pretty feeble. Sadly, when slowed down, the guitar inadequacies of Totman become more and more apparent. One can sense him wondering, “What am I doing wrong here? I’ve tried every trick I know!” Yet still he is unable to make the guitar solo work.
Salami Scale: 9/10

Overall Album rating: ☻☻☺☺☺

I think this went last so that we can see the album positively, but yet I still feel annoyed. How long is this quest of yours going to take? That was the third album on it, and Ultra Beatdown came out not so long ago. So that makes four albums of the same old crap.
People liked it at first, “Valley of the Damned” did well in the charts, but they’ve never been able to match that initial success. May I advise that you try to explore a new idea for once?

Mighty Salami.

Last edited by Salami; 12-23-2011 at 04:29 AM.
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