Dragonforce - Valley Of The Damned

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Noise Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 51:48:00

I first heard of Dragonforce (nee DragonHeart) back at Wacken 2000 where a man with the second longest hair I've seen in metal, Herman Li, approached me handing out a 5-track promo of his band. I didn't have a chance to listen to the album until I returned to Australia and what I heard was the most amazing power metal I had heard in quite a long time and now the band have finally signed a deal with Noise Records and have released their 9-track album Valley Of The Damned.

And it is still amazing.

Dragonforce caused a flurry of Internet activity through MP3.com when the five tracks were available for download. They knew they were on to a good thing musically, and they wanted people to spread the word. Filled with the most massive guitar shredding playing I have ever heard courtesy of Herman Li and Sam Totman (a New Zealander), Dragonforce is guitar wankery in the extreme but they are the most remarkable, catchy, versatile, and speedy guitar duelling I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. And it doesn't get tiring, which makes it even more special. In fact, there is a healthy dose of shredding from their newest recruit too, keyboardist Vadim Pruzhanov, but he is currently more reserved than the two guitarists (for the moment). Dragonforce use their fast playing and pompous posturing to their advantage with tight song-writing that has developed over the years with what it takes to make a successful band - hard work!

Aside from the guitar work, the best thing Dragonforce have going for them is enigmatic South African vocalist ZP Theart. Strong, powerful, and an asset that should never be allowed to even contemplate leaving Dragonforce, ZP is emotion-charged metal singer of the highest calibre. Drummer Didier Almouzni, born in France, is a hive of commotion. Forget speed in the traditional sense, this is Warp Factor 10 drumming, a non-stop tirade of aggression, temperament, and power (aside from the ballad "Starfire").

Lyrically, they generally have the fantasy theme well entrenched into their psyche but due to their English background they offer a more compact, rounded concept than other power metal bands from the mainland European continent. The production, so much more than their demo which was good enough, was done in three different locations and working with Karl Groom (Threshold guitarist/producer) and Tommy Hansen (Helloween ex-producer) taking the bulk of the work along with Herman Li's home studio.

For those that have the original demo, the main difference is the keyboards. The original demos featured prog rock legend Clive Nolan handling the keys which added both class and grace to a power metal band. Vadim is not as deft as Clive and this is particularly evident in the track "Disciples Of Babylon." All 5 songs from the first Valley Of The Damned demo made it and both songs from the May 2001 demo made it, too, albeit "Land Of Desire" transformed into "Evening Star" on this new album.

In my mind, power metal doesn't get any better than this. Simply brilliant.

[This review originally appeared December 2002 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]
Invocation Of Apocalyptic Evil / Valley Of The Damned / Black Fire / Black Winter Night / Starfire / Disciplines Of Babylon / Revelations / Evening Star / Heart Of A Dragon

Herman Li - lead and rhythm electric guitars, acoustic guitars, backing vocals
Sam Totman - lead and rhythm electric guitars
ZP Theart - lead and backing vocals
Vadim Pruzhanov - keyboards and piano
Didier Almouzni - drums

Additional musicians:

Diccon Harper - bass guitar
Clive Nolan - backing vocals, additional keyboards

Valley Of The Damned (2003)
Sonic Firestorm (2004)
Inhuman Rampage (2006)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin UK

Added: December 11th 2004
Reviewer: Gary Carson
Artist website: www.dragonforce.com
Hits: 951
Language: english


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