November 6, 2014 DragonForce – Maximum Overload (Album Review)
British Extreme Power Metal band DragonForce has been plugging away now since 1999. Mixing speedy Metal guitar solos and fantasy-based lyrics, the band became an unlikely hero, bringing a sound to the mainstream that many longed to hear. Reaching peak success with their 2006 album, Inhuman Rampage, DragonForce has sustained themselves as a band that has carved their own niche in an overcrowded Metal scene. Now in 2014, the band unleash their sixth studio album titled Maximum Overload. Marking the second release with new vocalist Marc Hudson, who took over for ZP Theart in 2011, it is also the last album to feature long-time drummer Dave Mackintosh. Different to other DragonForce records, the album in fact has their most collaborative effort to date with each member contributing songwriting opposed to passed material primarily written by founding members guitarists Sam Totman and Herman Li.
The album opens with an astounding explosion of sound on “The Game” with wild riffs and heavy percussion that entangle the falsetto voice of Hudson and guest appearance of Trivium’s Matt Heafy. Fast-paced and wicked, the track sets a precedent to be followed. A haunting eerie beginning introduces “Tomorrow’s King” which is another quick, insane song with a heavy melody accompanied by a somber chorus and an exceptional boom. Changing things up, “No More” is a slower track with a pronounced melody and rambunctious riffs, also featuring an appearance from Heafy. It fits in seamlessly with the rest of Maximum Overload, adding another notch to their already prestigious belt. “Three Hammers” slows things to an exquisite crawl and introduces a soft harmonic melody. Soothing and soft, it displays another side of this already faceted band with simple and resounding textures that leave a lasting impression and lingers in the auditory canals.
Deeper listeners find “Symphony of the Night” another ballad-like track that emits a different vibe than the rest. Fast, yet harmonizing, it merges several different styles effortlessly creating a new, enchanting and enticing song. “The Sun is Dead” delves into a deeper, darker fixation with thick, heavy riffs and insane drums. Hudson passionately cries the lyrics with a mournful tone making for a potent, strong piece which is the epitome of what people have come to know as DragonForce. As the album progresses, “Defenders” leaves nothing to be desired, with a fiery frenzy that takes off into a spiral, spinning a menagerie of different melodies in Heafy’s final guest spot on the album. Engulfing the listener, the song is beautifully layered providing a deep, complex sound. As Maximum Overload begins to wind down, “Extraction Zone” takes off into a cryptic insane pace, articulately incorporates several different melodies, and speeds into a dazzling intricacy of Symphonic Metal. “City of Gold” is a well-rounded, intense composition with wild, vibrant vocals. Vivid riffs and percussion emit a full powerful feeling with a burning passion. Closing the album is a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” where DragonForce infuse a rapid pace of guitars, giving the classic a new face and capturing the essence that Cash left behind. They end this journey with reverent solemnity and class.
DragonForce has been a staple in Heavy Metal for many years and show no signs of slowing down. They add another heavy and potent album to this genre with grace and melody. It is clear to see the interjection of different members’ writing has added a new spice to the band’s collection, while Hudson seems more comfortable on vocals than ever before. Maximum Overload is a necessity for any passionate Metal fan. CrypticRock give this album 5 out of 5 stars.