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Articles Home » 2008 Articles » Dragonforce - 2008 Ultra Beatdown
Dragonforce - 2008 Ultra Beatdown

ARTIST: Dragonforce
ALBUM: Ultra Beatdown
LABEL: Roadrunner Records
SERIAL: 1686-179378
YEAR: 2008


LINEUP: Z.P Theart - vocals * Herman Li - guitars, backing vocals * Sam Totman - guitars, backing vocals * Vadim Pruzhanov - keyboards, piano, backing vocals * Frederic Leclercq - bass, backing vocals * Dave Mackintosh - drums, backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Heroes Of Our Time * 02 The Fire Still Burns * 03 Reasons To Live * 04 Heartbreak Armageddon * 05 The Last Journey Home * 06 A Flame For Freedom * 07 Inside The Winter Storm * 08 The Warrior Inside * 09 Strike Of The Ninja (Bonus) * 10 Scars Of Yesterday (Bonus) * 11 EPM (Japanese Bonus)



London based Dragonforce are not the sort of band that you would usually find on a site like this. They have been reviewed here before, so that gets them a leg in - so to speak. The six piece melodic speed metal outfit is a 'league of nations' lineup, with representation from South Africa, Hong Kong, England/New Zealand, Ukraine, France and Scotland all getting some patriotic support. With their latest album 'Ultra Beatdown', Dragonforce release what is arguably an achievement of Olympian proportions, and with Beijing now in the throes of winding down the 2008 Summer Olympics which has been a superb sporting and cultural event, attention can now aimed squarely at this amazing band. Yes, the band will admit to playing fast and enjoying it too. As Herman Li was quoted as saying recently 'Playing fast just works for us. People who say we play too fast are probably right, but guess what? There's a million other bands that play slow.' And with that in mind, it's good to get that out of the way. Playing fast is far harder due to the control aspect, akin to getting the speed wobbles, but this band have had three prior albums to get the formula right, and with their fourth 'Ultra Beatdown', the most notable improvement is the emphasis and inclusion of melody.

The Songs
Lyrics are hardly a strong point with this band, it's the music that counts right? haha! Most of the tracks hover in the 6 to 8 minute bracket, 'A Flame For Freedom' being the shortest at 5 min 20.

'Heroes Of Our Time' is the opening track and first single of the album. It's original length is a touch over 7 minutes but the single has been shortened to approx 5 minutes. The song is also available as a download for the video game 'Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock'. A video has also been released for this song (see below). There is some incredible passages on this track, a great opener.'The Fire Still Burns' is presented with an air of drama, the speed onslaught enough to create enough friction to start an inferno - let alone a fire! There are a few stop/start passages throughout to give everyone the occasional breather.

The opening sequence to 'Reasons To Live' is drum batteringly heavy in the same vein as Judas Priest, the little pacman noise which follows is a hoot. The song progresses into a huge metal anthem for the masses. The speed is tapered back a bit for this one, but in saying that, when compared to a normal speed metal band, Dragonforce are still well over the speed limit!

'Heartbreak Armageddon' contains loads of interesting keyboard sequences amid the guitar flurry and light speed kick drums. The choruses are melody rich, and ZP Theart makes it sound interesting.

'The Last Journey Home' surges ahead on the backbone of some solid riffing without the speed element dominating the soundscape. The song contains big gang chants, some slower elements, atmospheric layers. This one could be labelled a prog metal track.

'A Flame For Freedom' could be described as the band's power ballad on the album. It's mid-tempo all the way, but don't be thinking these guys are wimping out. Hell no, it's still heavy as horses, and offers a good change-up on the album.

'Inside The Winter Storm' is a return to the speed demon antics from the first couple of tracks. The musical maelstrom doesn't totally strangle the song, there is a nice balladic passage mid-song that breaks up the music, which is a relief to the listener. From the halfway mark onward, the song belongs to Li and Totman, as they go head to head with riff after bombastic riff.

'The Warrior Inside' could be described as power metal's version of a personal mantra for the individual. The positive message embedded in thick layers of guitars and wrapped in a sonic battery trap of drums will soon be heard by all those athletes aspiring to Olympic glory in London 2012! haha!

Those were the core eight tracks, depending which version of the CD you have, there are an assortment of bonus tracks.

In Summary
The album is released worldwide in the next day or so, and is sure to command some attention in the metal fraternity. These guys are all about having fun, and they do not take themselves too seriously, and nor should you. Enjoy 'Ultra Beatdown' for what it is, a sonic overkill where speed and melody collide at the crossroads.

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#1 | jefflynnefan on August 24 2008 01:21:45
I seen Dragonforce live in concert this year. I thought they were good. I'll check this cd out.
#2 | gdazegod on August 24 2008 01:26:55
Great band, I hope to see them live somewhere along the way this year.. hopefully Australia again - they were down under last year (2007).
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