DRAGONFORCE Maximum Overload: Album Review

by I.O. Kirkwood on August 17, 2014

DF albumMaximum Overload is a pleasant, melodic, power metal record aimed at youthful fans with the goal to fill their heads with odes to destiny, allusions to magical beasties, and allegorical trips to Narnia. This is a story of escape and wish fulfillment and it will sell to a demographic with incredible amounts of disposable income to burn on music and video games and impractical clothes and a need to prove they are a little more dangerous than fans of Miley Cyrus.

This is what I term Gateway Metal: simple, enjoyable music that fools the uninitiated into thinking they’re listening to the brutal progenitor because of the speed with which scales and bass beats are rendered. In essence, bands like DRAGONFORCE provide a weaning stage from pop to metal. Gateway metal’s existence is inevitable and I suggest it is responsible for BABYMETAL.

Am I saying Maximum Overload is a bad album? No. DRAGONFORCE knows its market and has created an album that caters to it. The tracks are consistent in theme and technical presentation (just like previous albums). If I didn’t want to think, if I just wanted to lose myself in all the sounds, I could enjoy this album, but after a while it would wear thin for me. There is a formula evident looking back at previous releases, something refined to a science, and I can only think of Max Martin and his ability to write the most hit songs.

What surprised me about this album was the thrashier, more progressive sound. I was wondering if the band’s switch to Metal Blade was responsible for some of the opening attacks that reminded me of a certain band that we all know I love but I shall not name here. The familiarity is transient but this is the first time DRAGONFORCE has used an outside producer (Jens Bogren: Opeth, Katatonia, Amon Amarth, Symphony X) and fans may be delighted or incensed.

Marc Hudson sings superlative power metal vocals and if he can manage this live, I can’t fault his delivery or ability. STYX and ASIA come to mind for those of us who were breathing during the seventies and eighties. “The Sun Is Dead” has a memorable guitar duet with the bass guitar riding up on the high end in counterpoint that I really enjoyed. In fact, I can find something laudable about almost every track that saves it from being monotonous, which puts their sixth studio album in the solid offering range. At this point, it is a matter of taste so you will have to decide for yourself.

dragonforce

But DRAGONFORCE shouldn’t have covered “Ring of Fire.” JOHNNY CASH is rolling in his grave right now as I listen to it. There is nothing brutal or fiery about this remake. The timbre and passion of the original is diluted to a squeak of adolescent angst and I’ve taken a detached offense as the shock of outrage settles to roost. Unfortunately, DRAGONFORCE will not be the only band to take on an ambitious cover and fail to capture the depth and complexity that made the original such a hit. They would have been far more successful doing an accelerated remake of Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball.” Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?  Mike Lawrence had a slightly more positive take on this track in one of his articles.  Take a listen HERE and give us your opinion of the song in the comments section.

The album is set to drop on August 19th via Metal Blade Records. Have a listen and tell us what you think in the comments.

Rating: 3.5/5

ioI.O. Kirkwood is a Metal Descent contributor. You can read her personal blog at iokirkwood.com.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Sam Z February 24, 2016 at 11:11 pm

I saw my first power metal concert in November 2016. Dragonforce opened for Kamelot. I have been hooked on Dragonforce since, as in addicted. I am old enough to remember Elvis being drafted. Ring of fire is growing on me.

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