- Inhuman Rampage - Roadrunner Records 2006
Running Time: 56:25
While to these ears DragonForce's previous efforts (2003's Valley Of The Damned and 2004's Sonic Firestorm) were
textbook exercises in classic UK speed-power metal, they fell a bit short in living up to the spot in metal royalty most critics were primed and ready to bestow upon them. Given the option, I'd be found listening to Helloween and the vastly underrated Sacred Rite instead, reliving the glory days of what we'll call my metal adolescence. Now, two years from the Sonic Firestorm, DragonForce have delivered the album that grants them not only a "spot" in metal royalty, but damn near the throne.
The acquisition of Dave Mackintosh (ex - Bal-Sagoth) has pushed the band further into the realms of speed. Due to the warp-speed of Bal-Sagoth's metal (which at times left me feeling as if I were trapped in an arcade in Hell), Dave is as comfortable raining down authentic blastbeats as he is locking into the groove of the shout-along choruses for which DragonForce are known. This is evident even from 'Through The Fire And Flames', where kickdrums outpace machinegun fire, but never losing sight of the song's triumphant hook. The Li-Totman dual axe attack is in rare form, nailing arpeggios as if they invented them in the first place, and ZP Theart's lean yet brazen vocals bleed with the passion and fire this music demands. Still, an album where the lion's share of songs pass the six-minute mark without even stopping to ask directions can get really fucking tedious if the melodies aren't memorable enough to stick in your head. The chorus of 'Revolution Deathsquad' erased all worry, implanting itself in my brain with the force of a battering ram. Theart deserves great credit for never hitting a poncy falsetto in order to make his range seem like something it isn't, as in 'Storming The Burning Fields'. Where your LaBries or latter-day Meines would've been flailing about searching for a suitable octave, Theart stays in his mid-range, comfortably kicking ass all the while. There's a sense of humour here, the bridge in 'Storming...' (4:28-4:46) being either a spot-on imitation - or drunken pisstake - of fellow countrymen Def Leppard and pretty much any 80s hairband, before cranking back up for a final chorus. Trust me, you'll know it when you hear it. From 4:20-4:29 of 'Operation Ground And Pound' I swore and hoped DragonForce were about to break into an oldschool thrash riff, but the lightning keys of Vadim Pruzhanov reigned the band back in, reminding them that (as much as it would've been great to hear) Kreator they are not. When you have over seven minutes to play with in a song, you have a bit of room to goof around now and again. 'Body Breakdown' recalls Nocturnal Rites, sticking to a leisurely mid-pace for quite alot of the song, and making way for breakneck double-shot of 'Cry For Eternity' and 'The Flame Of Youth'. Not since MANOWAR has a band inspired such a resurgence of faith in power Metal, and this album goes the distance to show you that our faith hasn't been misplaced. Closing with the ballad, 'Trail Of Broken Hearts', DragonForce once again blend technical proficiency with a solid knack for hooks, still managing to work a few full-length solos into the traditionally short power ballad form.
DragonForce are one of those bands where there really is no middle ground. Either you "get it" or you don't. If you don't, you never will, but for those who do, Inhuman Rampage has time-warped a bit of Metal's beloved glory days into 2006.