I first heard of Dragonforce when I downloaded Black Winter Night from MP3.com and was hooked instantly. I had to listen to it about 5 times because I just couldn t believe the speed everything was getting fired at me. Getting their album Valley Of The Damned became priority number one on my list of things to do.

The intro track Invocation Of Apocalyptic Evil almost takes as long to say as to play and builds you up nicely into the title track; Valley of the Damned . A catchy rhythm guitar like riff starts the track and the speed and intensity seem to build up with each bar played. ZP Theart s vocals raising an octave at the start of the second verse seems to be the signal for the mayhem to begin in earnest. Man, I didn t know you could shred on a bass guitar. Although everything seems to be coming at you at a bajillion miles an hour, you are not hearing a wall of noise. You are hearing very melodic Power Metal and with both guitarists having their own unique style, they harmonise perfectly. This track basically sets the framework for the rest of the album (less the amazing ballad Starfire ) A Shred-Head s fantasy come true, so hold on tight and try to keep up! . Vadim Pruzhanov, the keyboard player is more reserved than the two guitarist but he does remind you he s there with some very nice, if brief, shred fills in Disciples of Babylon and Evening Star . ZP s voice is clear, high pitched (as is almost the industry standard for Melodic Power metal), yet still has a raw, metal edge that has the power to blow speakers.

One thing I noticed, is that some of the tracks are deceptive, speed wise, particularly Black Fire , Black Winter Night and Revelations . Yes, everything is going Hell for leather, but the beat counts are deceptively slower. Very clever! This deception is created by the pure adrenaline fuelled, aggressively powerful drumming of Didier Almouzna. His double and triple kicks and grinding bass drumming along with his frantic stickwork is just awesome, definitely the driving force of this album. Of course when the solos start, the slow beat count theory turns to ratshit as the count goes off the scale.

Starfire has the hallmarks of good old Spandex Metal ballad from the likes of Poison, Europe, Boston and the likes stamped all over it, and the closing track Heart of the Dragon - from the title, the opening chorus, in fact, the whole damn song, just screams CHEESY POWER METAL ANTHEM and I love it. Learn the words to this chorus people, cos if you don t, and you go to a Dragonforce concert, you are going to feel a right Doofus standing there silent when all around you everyone else bursts a lung belting it out; cos they will, I feel it in my water.

Dragonforce have created the most awesome Melodic Power Metal album I ve heard. I feel they are going to ram-raid some of the current Power Metal stalwarts aside, ripping some frilly shirts in the process, to make way for a more ferocious style of Melodic Power metal. Of course, the Symphonic/Epic/Hollywood style Power Metal will still be enjoyed by many, me included, but, I feel Dragonforce have raised the bar, so to speak, by adding this warp factor eleventeen speed into the equation that may be out of reach to some bands. However, there will be some who will disagree with my assessment of this album. I can just imagine what my old friend Unison would say about it, and I quote Far to much guitar widdley-wankery , and he has a point. Herman Li and Sam Totman pefrorm some of the fastest, over the top, guitar solo wankery that I have ever heard EVER! But, if you like that sort of thing, then this album is definitely for you. Even if you don t, then the amazing harmonics, the catchy guitar riffs and the memorable choruses, will ensure this album gets stuck in your head and on you stereo for a long time. Dragonforce have arrived and have redefined Power in Power Metal.

Shoegazer Ross

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Cover art for "Valley Of The Damned"

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Dragonforce
Valley Of The Damned

2003

www.
dragonforce.
com

Noise Records 

9 tracks
51:45 Minutes

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"Invocation Of Apocalyptic"
"Valley Of The Damned"
"Black Fire"
"Black Winter Night"
"Starfire"
"Disciples of Babylon"
"Revelations"
"Evening Star"
"Heart Of A Dragon"
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