Album Review: Dragonforce, ‘Maximum Overload’

Written by Lucas P. Jones

DragonForce-Maximum-Overload

In an industry dominated by electronic drums, auto tuned vocals, and flannel wearing guitarists who thing that distortion is something only done “by, like, the politicians and the media, man”, it’s always exciting to hear a new album from a band like DragonForce. Known primarily for blinding and technical solos, DragonForce have established themselves as one of the premier power metal bands on the planet, and Maximum Overload keeps that momentum going strong. It boasts some of the bands best examples of song construction and melody to date, and the result is arguable the bands best album yet.

The first track, “The Game,” kicks the album off in a very in-your-face way. A heavy riff punctuated by melodic vocals makes this song one of the best on the album. Subtle keyboards are present as well, and add a nice flavor which is especially noticeable in the chorus sections. Add in a heavy breakdown after the solo, and you’ve got a song that’s sure to be a crowd favorite.

Photo Credit: Ashley Maile
Photo Credit: Ashley Maile

The next three tracks, “Tomorrow’s Kings,” “No More,” and “Three Hammers” are slightly more generic songs, and don’t stray from the successful DragonForce formula, with some sections even sounding like they were ripped from previous songs. “Three Hammers” has a killer clean intro, and slow galloping rhythm, but suffers from exceedingly cheesy lyrics and vocals. These three tracks are definitely the weakest on the album, but are still worth listening to.

The next three songs more than make up for it. “Symphony of the Night” shows off the band’s classical influence with a great clean guitar/vocal intro, which leads into what can only be described one of the most bad-ass songs I’ve ever heard. A combination of machine like drumming and open sustained chords give this song a truly epic feel. Skip to about 3 minutes in, and DragonForce delivers an amazing instrumental section that shows off their ability to put bits and pieces of a song together to make something incredible. Oh. And did I mention blazing fast harmonies? Because blazing fast harmonies. “The Sun is Dead” and “Defenders” each bring something interesting to the table. The first unleashes a really cool riff that proves that while the band can play fast, they don’t need to in order to be heavy. And the second has some of the best vocal on the album in terms of lyrics and melodies.

“Extraction Zone” is the only song to feature the really crazy sounds that DragonForce is known for. There is a really interesting instrumental section that can only be described as 8-bit, and should bring back some nostalgia for those who grew up on older systems. The way the band created that section is pretty interesting as well, http://pop-break.com/2014/08/20/interview-dragonforce/”>and you can read was Sam Totman had to say in my interview with the band.

But DragonForce still has an ace up their sleeves with the last track, “Ring of Fire.” Sound familiar? It should, because that track is a cover of Johnny Cash’s classic song. Yep, a power metal version of a Cash song, and it is just as amazing as it sounds. It adds a whole new dimension to the song, and the band succeeds in making the track their own.

The deluxe version of the album also features five bonus tracks. These songs are good, but ultimately would have weakened the album had they been included. With the exception of “Galactic Astro Domination,” these tracks are all fairly standard power metal tracks. Solid, but best left as bonus additions. At the end of the day, I can safely say that this is the best album to date from the power metal legends. Pick this up, you won’t regret it.