Thursday, November 16, 2006

My Guitar Solo Will Go On (For All Of Eternity)

Dragonforce – Sonic Firestorm

Dragonforce is my first foray into the unfortunate genre of power metal. Hopefully it shall also be my last. For some reason occasional exposure to Manowar had predisposed me to looking into this sort of thing, and I thought it might make a nice change from 'serious' music. Sadly, Dragonforce is not a nice change from anything.

Sonic Firestorm starts out with its best riff and provides a pleasant fifteen seconds or so of ponderous, brooding buildup, promising an explosion into thundering heaviness. Unfortunately that promise is unfulfilled and the only explosion that happens is, it must be said, one of gayness, when the song busts into the first of many incredibly cheesy and annoyingly juvenile straightforward speed metal riffs while the vocalist (in his best Freddy Mercury impersonation) starts singing about dragons, demons and mighty battles. This is bad enough, but then the guitar solos start. To be fair Dragonforce do deserve credit for the fact that their two guitarists are simply amazing from a technical perspective, and for the first minute or so it seems as if it would be worth listening to the whole album just to hear these guys shred like maniacs. But then the solo keeps going... and going... and going... and even when it's finished you only get a few minutes downtime until they start up all over again. It doesn't matter how incredibly fast you can play, but an hour long album which is thirty percent diddly-diddly-diddly guitar solos can only be a trial of patience.

At times it seems that these guys might be verging on 'so bad it's good' territory. The most appealing riffs are those when the guitar's ultra clean 8-bit sound is at it's most Pokemon, and the uber-cheesy ballad 'Dawn Over A New World' is so ridiculous that I can scarcely believe that it's not intended to be ironic. Try these lyrics:

Across the highest mountains/
And through the endless seas/
I journey ever onwards/
Fight until we all be free.
By the time it reaches the climax and pulls out a truck driver's key change straight out of the Michael Jackson textbook of shitty pop songwriting the listener is unsure whether to applaud their subversive commentary on the shallowness of popular culture or to shoot themselves in the face to escape the lameness.

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