Dragonforce are quite an amazing band, not in a music sense but the fact they’ve been releasing the same album over and over again for most of their career. Every song Dragonforce has released in their 13 year-long career follows the same, 250bpm tempo formula with high vocals and nerdy computer game inspired solos that are quite good but get tiring after a while. The only good song that Dragonforce ever released was ‘Through The Fire and The Flames‘ which was on their 2006 release Inhuman Rampage and definitely their most known (only known) song. This with exception of maybe one or two others is the only song Dragonforce have ever released that made me say wow, I remember the first time I saw the music clip it was amazing.
When it was announced back in 2010 that ex-vocalist ZP Theart had left the band I had hopes that maybe just maybe Dragonforce would wake up to themselves and start writing some serious music that doesn’t sound so comical and dated. After holding auditions for a new melodic singer, Dragonforce announced Marc Hudson an unknown speed metal vocalist from the UK would be replacing ZP Theart and after a video circulated of Marc showing off some incredibly sustained high vocals which turned out to be for the track, ‘Holding On‘ I had hope that Dragonforce would be releasing something we have never heard on The Power Within.
Starting off with the track, ‘Holding On‘ which at first sounds very Van Halen like I had some pretty high hopes this album was going to be epic but in true Dragonforce fashion the song transcends into a track that sounds like it borrowed riffs, song structure, lyrics and even melodies from their well-known hit ‘Through The Fire and The Flames‘. The disappointment continues until track #3 when pirate-metal sounding track ‘Cry Thunder’ begins, the album immediately regains some of the credibility tracks 1 and 2 made the album lose, this is probably the first track in the entire history of Dragonforce’s career that doesn’t have a massive wank-fest of guitars pummeling you in the face at 1000bpm, the solo in this track is fucking awesome.
I never considered the vocal component of Dragonforce’s music to be appealing, I always thought that ZP sounded like a massive douchebag with a high voice stuck in the past. Marc Hudson on this album absolutely shines, in-fact the vocals are part of the reason The Power Within is as good as it is, Marc’s voice is just as high as ZP’s in the right places the track ‘Holding On‘ has some insanely high vocals and then tracks like ‘Cry Thunder’ and ‘Give Me The Night’ showcase Marc’s ability to go low as well (something ZP severely lacked). I never thought I’d see the day when the vocals in Dragonforce actually became an integral part of their sound, I really enjoy the diversity of Marc’s voice on this album.
The track, ‘Give Me The Night‘ is probably one of the best tracks Dragonforce have ever written. It has everything that old Dragonforce fans love; the speed and intensity of Sam Totman and Herman Li’s frenetic guitar work, but also strangely starts off sounding like a Children of Bodom song (the song barely starts and you’re already impressed). When I first heard this track I had to repeat it a few times because I refused to believe that Dragonforce actually wrote this track, it’s easily the best track on the album and in their career as a band. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, at the 2:25 mark this song busts out a bass guitar solo and death metal esque keyboard/guitar solo combination before speeding back up and an insanely good guitar solo kicks in. Another one of my favourite tracks is, ‘Heart Of The Storm‘ this will definitely be one of Marc’s signature tracks for a good while; a catchy song with trademark Dragonforce duelling guitar solos and diverse range vocals.
One thing about The Power Within that really sucks is the album artwork. I don’t know if it’s because their budget was limited, or they were going for a bad 80’s album cover but it seriously looks like they used some kind of dodgy online album artwork creation tool and added some text into the bottom right hand corner as an afterward. It’s a minor thing, but I do appreciate it when a band puts effort into the artwork of their albums.
When I first received a copy of The Power Within I honestly was expecting this to be another guitar wank-fest of computer game guitar noises, I was wrong. This is one of the most cohesively structured, diverse and heaviest albums Dragonforce have released to date, I even reckon it’s better than Inhuman Rampage. While there are times where parts of certain songs become tiring, there’s no denying that Dragonforce have really wised up to their boring ways and released something so cohesively written and produced that they’ll most likely become relevant again. Welcome back Dragonforce.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10.