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Dragonforce: Maximum Overload
If I could ever go back in time and decide not to see one band live, it would easily be Dragonforce. I heard the tales of studio manipulation, an inability to perform the songs live, and a whole other slew of justifiable reasons as to why they are both one of the most well loved and well scorned bands in the Power Metal world today. I was fine with the United Kingdom based group until catching them on tour in support of Inhuman Rampage where one fault after another was met with one stupid excuse after another. They botched the song because their guys who put the set together didn’t do it right, the stage was too small, or it’s because some guy in the front row didn’t want to bring the guitarist a beer. The list went on and on and on and by the time the show ended I felt betrayed enough to go home and get rid of their albums I owned. Since then, I take each new album with a grain of salt. While The Power Within was surprisingly enjoyable and powerful, Maximum Overload may live up to its title as well.

Recently a music video for “The Game” was released, which I will genuinely be surprised if it isn’t the second track of the album, maybe following an introduction due to the insanely loud guitars that kick it off. Right away I had a bad feeling about the song, which was incredibly mixed for me. The speed is there like usual, especially in the main verses that were nothin more than just alright. When additional effects hit in the background I actually lost track of what was going on or where in the song I was. Even the bridges are a little too much in trying to build up the highly melodic first chorus. Yes, there seems to be two at work, and the transition between them is horrible. While the second, which we’ll call the actual chorus, is legitimately catchy and works a lot better with the vocals than anything else on the recording that makes them incredibly weak, the first slows the pace down a bit and actually gives the performance a moment to grab the listener with some memorable notes and genuine emotion instead of hard to follow showmanship and additional Nintendo Entertainment System synth effects that sound like pilfered scores from some of my favorite video games.

Every fibre of my being listens to “The Game” and just wishes the band would slow the hell down with their music already. The blistering pace gimmick is getting old at this point, and I’m not sure I can actually handle another one. The rough part is when you get these glimmers at how fantastic and emotional the music can actually be, coming off sounding purely natural and not performed by some kind of robotic human hybrid specifically designed to shred ten times faster than any Thrash song ever released. That actually is part of the reason as to why repeat spins are even more infuriating! Just knowing they can limit themselves without treading directly into ballad territory but get half a chorus of it will make you want to put your fist through a brick wall and keep trying until you do.successfully.

But, as always, perhaps there’s more to Maximum Overload than what this song presents, or maybe a complete spin will put the insanity into perspective. After all it is obvious this follows something, so that may be the case why this is so chaotic and hard to follow. Hopefully that and additional restrained material like mentioned above will e the case for this new outing. If not, chances are good this is going to be one of Dragonforce‘s busiest albums yet that could leave listeners entirely overloaded.


Digital review copy of this release provided by public stream via Metal Blade Records.