Dragonforce: Maximum Overdrive review

There are very few bands in recent memory that have changed the sound of the already epic genre of power metal as much as Dragonforce. Since their inception in 1999, the London based metal masters hybrid blend of video game themed power metal has combined traditional power metal with flourishes of thrash and over the top guitar solos, to create something quite unlike anything fans of the genre had ever heard before, taking it to a whole new level of excellence. The band’s newest epic masterpiece Maximum Overload for Metal Blade Records is their 6th studio album overall and is set redefine the genre yet again. The album is the 2nd with new vocalist Marc Hudson, who replaced longtime frontman ZP Theart in 2011 and will be the last with drummer Dave Mackintosh, who recently announced his amicable departure and was replaced by Gee Anzalone. The album also marks the first time the band have stepped outside the comfort zone of their own studios and used an outside producer. Maximum Overload was produced by Jens Bogren and features guest apperances by Trivium frontman Matt Heafy on “The Game,” “No More” and “Defenders.” Tracks like “Tomorrow’s King” and “Extraction Zone” blast the listener with a complex battery of unexpected structural detours that hits like a drive by shooting. While the pulsating rhythms, venomous riffs and hyperspeed leads in “No More” are executed with surgical precision. Elsewhere, vocalist Marc Hudson’s razor sharp vibrato in “Three Hammers” is the perfect complement to Li and Totman’s technically proficient dexterity. The breakneck tempos, clever rhythmic passages, lacerating hooks and blistering fretwork of “Symphony Of The Night” and “City Of Gold” will send the listener into sensory overload. At the same time, “The Sun Is Dead” is seething with pneumatic drill drum beats that are masterfully counter balanced by Hudson’s dynamic vocals and huge anthemic choruses. Meanwhile the buzzsaw grooves in the verses and bridge of 2nd single “Defenders” are augmented by soaring power metal choruses and is the closest this amazing band has ever come to a thrash song. The album concludes with a mindbending cover of the Johnny Cash classic “Ring Of Fire” that is so ridicuously fast, it not only blurs the lines of the genre, it blurs the lines of the space time continuum, by approaching the speed of light. Here’s the bottom line. If you are a guitar aficionado, then Dragonforce are your Utopia and Maximum Overload is your Zen. Rating: 9/10 -Eric Hunker