Album Review: DragonForce – Maximum Overload
Posted by Reggie
Songs: 15 on the special edition
Length – 71 minutes on the special edition
Albums: This is their sixth studio album
Release Date: 19 Aug 2014 (North America), 18 Aug 2014 (Europe)
Nationality – United Kingdom
If there is one thing you can count on with DragonForce, it’s their speed and enthusiasm blended into fantasy-based power metal with a hint of geeky gamer musical references. Is that one thing or multiple things? Anyway, what does that mean for the new album? In short, more of the same, but there are some subtle differences on “Maximum Overload” that might reel you back in if you thought their previous album, “The Power Within (2012),” signaled the beginning of the end due to the introduction of a new vocalist and extreme consistency.
First, the necessary elements that make up a DragonForce album are all there, so I won’t give that the ultra beatdown. Second, it is probably important to note that long-time drummer Dave Mackintosh departed the band. If you caught the video for The Game, you may have noticed this. If not, I am telling you there is a new drummer, Gee Anzalone, formerly of Braindamage and Kill Ritual and you can see him in the video for The Game. I have no further information on him. Third, DragonForce claims to have recorded their fastest song yet with The Game which also includes Trivium’s Matt Heafy on backing vocals. Personally, I noticed it was fast when I heard it, but didn’t realize they actually tracked this kind of thing. The Game happens to sit at a speedy 240 beats per minute (BPM) if that means anything to you. It sounds fast to me and it reflects in the song – my personal favorite on the album. Lastly, this is the first album by DragonForce to be recorded by an outside producer, Jens Bogren and NOT in their own studio. If you follow producers, you may know him as the guy who has worked with Katatonia, Bloodbath, Opeth (hmmm), Amon Amarth, Pain of Salvation, Paradise Lost, The Ocean, Soilwork, and James LaBrie to name a few.
It took me a minute to recognize the Johnny Cash cover of Ring of Fire. As you can imagine, the band gave it the DragonForce touch vs. doing an exact cover. It took me to the chorus leading up to hearing the words “Ring of Fire” before I realized what I was hearing. I give them props for making it their own even though it isn’t their own…technically.
Where I find some differences this time around is that there is more meat and less cheese – a little less on the power and more on the metal! I hear some thrashy elements here and there and a harder edge buried between their solos, double bass drumming, and sheer speed. You’ll hear it if you are paying attention especially on The Game, No More, and Defenders which, incidentally, are all three songs that feature Matt Heafy on backing vocals.
The ten tracks on the standard album range from 3:15 to 6:34; pretty mid-range and nothing I would say is too short or too long for this a DragonForce song. On the deluxe edition there are five bonus songs, one of which is Galactic Astro Domination and is a remix of a song recorded for a Capital One commercial. I have no recollection of this commercial. You? I’ll have to scour YouTube for that one.
As I mentioned before, everything needed for a DragonForce album to sound like DragonForce is present. They have a distinct sound not to be confused with any other band, really. Slicing off the cheese a bit and becoming more focused on the metal is where I think you will find some value with “Maximum Overload.”
I’ll be damned. There it is.