DRAGONFORCE - THE POWER WITHIN (2012) ALBUM REVIEW
In before biased 5 star reviews.
I’ll start by saying that I am a long time Dragonforce fan and that I was really looking forward to this album. I was disappointed to hear ZP Theart had left the band but I was glad that I got to see one of their last live shows before he left and I wasn’t going to be too upset if they split, so I was surprised to see they were looking for a new vocalist and planned to continue on. ZP Theart’s powerful vocals were one of Dragonforce’s stand-out features and I didn’t see how they could find a suitable replacement, but find a replacement they did in Marc Hudson.
The new singer is basically a carbon copy of ZP Theart but without the emotion and power. I won’t deny that he is talented and skilled but his vocals don’t bring anything new or unique to the table and in that respect the album suffers. To be honest I would have been able to enjoy the album with the new vocalist if the rest of the band had kept to the same level of quality as on Ultra Beatdown and before but, in my opinion as a long term fan, they haven’t.
The trademark Dragonforce guitar work is still here but nothing stands out at all and the guitars are a lot quieter in the mix, with the vocals a lot louder. This is very much a vocal driven album with most of the roaring guitar work on previous albums replaced by forgettable wankery and unimaginative riffing, with a much more polished and less chugging sound. The lyrics are still about the same old nonsense. I think with a new vocalist they should have tried something new instead of the same stuff about Armageddon, eternity and infinity, storms and thunder and hearts of dragons etc etc. It was “cool” to begin with but now it’s just starting to sound a bit lame.
The album has its highlights that break up the seemingly identical sounding tracks but honestly I couldn’t tell when one track ended and another began because I kept zoning out and the album became just background noise. The enjoyable thing about previous Dragonforce albums was that they were so intense most of the time and you WANTED to listen hard to them to make out all the craziness that was going on but in this album the harder you listen the more disappointed you will be. They have cut down on the song lengths and recorded less tracks (acoustic, instrumental and live tracks don't count). Every track has some good ideas in it, Cry Thunder being by far the best track on the album, but they are nowhere near as awesome as their older work and it has 500% less solos. I’m listening to The Power Within and Ultra Beatdown as I write this and the difference in quality is astonishingly noticeable. The songs on The Power Within all blend together into one indistinguishable 50min track where as Ultra Beatdown is just full of energy.
I really hope this album doesn’t get lauded as some landmark of 2012 because in all honesty it’s a disappointment and any publication that commends the album as anything other than mediocre Dragonforce fare are just sucking up to the mainstream. It’s only good for background music or for the few tracks that they seem to have actually put effort into. They should have tried something new for this album, like a lyrics change or a concept album, but instead they put all the focus on the vocalist by putting him much higher in the mix than anything else and turning the guitars down to a whisper. Stick with everything up to Ultra Beatdown and pretend this doesn’t exist.
For now i'm going to give this album a score of 25%. Ill give it a few more listens and see if anything changes my mind but right now i doubt that will happen.
Out before fanboy rage.