Hi, I’m JotaKa. I’m a rocker by birth and grew listening to rock discs and long plays by the dozen. Well, I’ve been kind of off these days in journeys, study and a job, and didn’t have much time to look for material to review. So, one day, chatting around on the internet, a friend of mine called MasterTime came to me and I asked him for quick suggestions. He said that Power Metal is the way.
I never was a fan of Power Metal. Hell, I’m not even a metal fan. I venture in the lands of Sonata Arctica once in a blue moon and I think it’s too heavy for my particular tastes. So, this is not my expertise area at all. I proceeded to ask a good Power Metal band, and in all the names that popped-up, DragonForce called my attention.
So, I wondered “Why?”. It’s not well divulged, it’s not in commercials. It’s not around for a billion years. They didn’t revolutionize the power metal brand, they aren’t fresh, and they aren’t anything. But still, I gave my vote of trust and went to the local CD-store and looked up for a DragonForce album that was on the shelves, and for my dismay, there wasn’t any. I had to call that geek who stands around me and asks me if I want anything while laughs at my clothes behind my back and calls me retrograde for liking old bands and only buying CDs off the discount basket (Ac/Dc’s “Fly on the Wall” by five bucks? How could I not buy it?). Let him listen Lady Gaga, as I forced him into the backstage to get me a fucking disc, and surprise for me and for him, he found one: Inhuman Rampage. MasterTime told me, although not his favorite album, it was the world’s favorite album, so I bought it. More expensive than Fly on the Wall and probably less audible.
As I looked at the track list as soon as I got home, I got a glimpse on why the hell it caught my attention on the first place: the first track was “Through the Fire and Flames”. I actually like that tune, but I only heard it from “Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock”, so I wondered if that was the only thing that made the huge fame that DragonForce has. So, one more time, a little background is needed.
The year is 1999. Euro is instated in all the Europe Union. Britney Spears appears to the world with her debut album and the Back Street Boys reach platinum with Millennium. American Beauty gains the academy award of best movie, and in the home consoles, Nintendo makes history by releasing his everlasting franchise of Smash Bros.
Herman Li and Sam Totman, two guitarists in London, decided to start a metal band called DragonHeart. They found the rest of the band, including Vadim Pruznahov the keyboard player, and managed to get on tour with some big shots over the country, but only seven years later and two albums later were able to get the best formation of all, with Dave Mackintosh on the drums and Frédéric Leclercq on the bass. They got some media attention with their second album, “Sonic Firestorm”, but this was the one that made their success go sky-high.
The main complaint that this band, in particular, gets, is that it is one thing to hear it in the studio and one thing to hear it live, but not in the good way. They can’t play the guitars as fast as they can in the albums and the sound quality is bad. Although these were later deemed lies by the band, and didn’t put my hands in any other DragonForce material beside this particular album, I really don’t care much for that. If the band plays good music with the use of auto-tune or uses playback on the shows, if it is good music, then it still plays good music. So what if they can’t actually make that? There are plenty hip hop artists that use samples in shows and they are not deemed antichrists. And after all, the Monkees made it work, haven’t they? There are plenty of bands that most people think that only one record is good, or only the live versions of the songs are excellent, so why not the inverse?
This album was, all in all, good on the charts. One that calls attention is that it was 1st on the Heetseekers charts that only classify new acts and new bands. So, with the most little background I ever written for this series, let’s get this over with: Inhuman Rampage by DragonForce.
1st track: “Through the Fire and Flames”: Yeah, the first song in your face is already the single. The song has really highly-technical guitar solos with themes that resemble video-game and lyrics that remember epic battles. This song is their most famous song and is really a nice visit card: I got generic power metal, exactly what I was figuring I was dealing with. Well, I’m not going to dwell on this one because, well, everyone knows what this track is all about: DragonForce being generic. Next!
2nd track: “Revolution Deathsquad”: Whoa, the drumbeat kind of remained the same speed, and sounds exactly the same as before. The guitar remains hyper-technical and the vocals are really inspired, but I guess that they are just doing the power metal agenda. I started to listen to the lyrics more than the guitar, and it sounds like a bunch of clichés all together. “Long years of pain and sorrow searching for more/Cry for the touch of angels never before”, “And the world cries out for the silence lost in the voices alone”, “On towards the gates of reason/Fight for the truth and the freedom/Gloria!”. The guitar solos are too… mechanical. They seem like the soul of the whole thing was sucked from it. Not one fret of improv in the whole thing. Well, all in all, it’s really more beat marked than TTFAF, but I really think the drums remained the same. The effects on the guitar ruin the sound a lot, as they could have been really good if it didn’t sound so dirty. Gloria!!!!!
3rd track: “Storming the Burning Fields”: Stop it. Just stop it. Is this really the name of the track? Storming the Burning Fields? It sounds as a Lord of the Rings chapter’s name. It sounds like a quest made by some dungeon master really bored out of his senses. As the song starts, the delivery of generic power metal is still being… delivered. The vocals are the generic singing of metal, as the guitar is still boring as hell, with all its technical stuff. It really sounds like it’s the same solo, being used and reused, over and over again. The lyrics remain awesome: “Through damnation we rise, sign of the times/Master of bleeding eyes/Thunder on high, look to the sky/You never gonna take us down!”, but it’s starting to get really boring to hear these clichés lyrics. The song at 2:35 changes dramatically and keeps changing, but not to anything better. The best thing it could do they did: going back to technical guitar solos. But, again, the effects are killing the guitar solo. It has a synthesizer only moment, with an “o” chorus, but then again, it still is boring moment. It is the shorter music in the album, with “only” 5:19, which is longer than some Ramones’ albums.
4th track: “Operation Ground and Pound”: The second single, and last. So from here on, every hope of a good song was completely thrashed by the band or the producer. The intro is kind of soft by the standards by now presented, and till now, the best part in the album. But don’t worry, in less than a minute, that good part will be wasted away and the generic of always will commence at once! The drummer must be pissed: he keeps doing the same thing. The vocal tries a new thing, but it doesn’t work at all. The lyrics are all epic, but now, it’s not amusing. At roughly 4:20, the song does a complete tempo change to a street fighter midi, and back. What were they thinking? The song is boring and repetitive as the album so far. Why they trashed the intro? Maybe it was too original and too cool to be led one.
5th track: “Body Breakdown” What? It’s the same fucking thing as before! Did I repeat tracks? It’s like they are using a formula. The intro is really guitar-paced. The vocals are kind of calm, but the drummer must still be pissed. The keyboard is really inventive, as I just realized that I’ve been calling it synthesizer because I’m more used to look at older albums. I think that this is the least epic song, but is still cramped with clichés. The guitar is still butt-loaded with effects that really take the taste of it. There is 2 seconds of each instrument they have on board, including a pick bass that really sounds remarkable in the grand scheme of things of this album. It’s really rare and I really enjoy the sound of the pick bass. The calm part is really cool, but it’s only 10 seconds long, so, it’s not good enough to save the song, let alone the album. The ending is kind of creative.
6th track: “Cry for Eternity” Wow. The titles don’t stop amusing me. “Cry for Eternity”? This is so lame. The guitar is, again, mechanical. The vocal tries, again, to do something kind of new. The drummer, again, is doing the same exact beat as before. The lyrics are, again, cliché stuffed and really repetitive. This album must have 2~3 songs in all. This song is kind of enjoyable, but only if you hear it standing alone: it’s just repeating itself from the album, but if you don’t hear the album, it’s all original. The keyboard only part is really good, and the follow-up with the guitars and feint sounds are really a fresh of new air on the face, after so much repetitive stuff. Hey, this song is really good! How the fuck this didn’t get to be a single? Maybe my tastes are old of age, maybe the tastes of the world got sick. Screw “Operation Ground and Pound”, “Cry for Eternity” is far better!
7th track: “The Flame of Youth”: Back to Generic Power Metal it is! My hopes and dreams were all turned to dust. Although this song tries to be calmer on the beginning, it goes back to the rest of the album, with two really overdriven guitars with a lot of effects at top. The singing is just your generic metal singer. “Through the fire Through the Flames” is sung, so I guess this song was made as follow-up: it’s more common than people think. Two songs are made linked together and have a theme in common, but they decide to take them apart. The song follows the exact formula that every other song took. I think it could have a diagram.
8th track: “Trail of Broken Hearts”: That’s just an emo title. And the song dramatically changes! What the hell? I really wasn’t expecting that. Although I liked it, in all, there was this part that was really bad editing. Man… why? Didn’t they have any expectations at all? Did they hire the most pathetic workers ever? Jeez… The keyboard commands the show, as he has been doing since the beginning, but this time not being overshadowed by the guitars. The effects used in this song pass as really amateurish, mostly the effects over the vocals. I’m happy that drummer got to make something different in the end of the album. Even in this kind of ballad they follow the metal formula, but this time slower. It’s a really dull song, but it’s different from the rest, so I guess it’s good.
So, there you have it. Inhuman Rampage in depth. How does it hold up? The album is kind of a generic power metal album, and I must admit it’s a shock of adrenalin to anyone who cares to listen. The last song is just a chain breaker, made for the sole purpose to try to please everyone and failing miserably. I really recommend Through the Fire and Flames and Cry for Eternity as stand-alone songs, but all in all, I don’t recommend this album to anyone who is not a diehard fan of the style.
This is JotaKa, signing off.