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Dragonforce - "Maximum Overload" (CD)

Dragonforce - "Maximum Overload" CD cover image

"Maximum Overload" track listing:

1. The Game (5:05)
2. Tomorrow’s Kings (4:20)
3. No More (3:57)
4. Three Hammers (6:00)
5. Symphony of the Night (5:29)
6. The Sun Is Dead (6:45)
7. Defenders (5:57)
8. Extraction Zone (5:14)
9. City of Gold (4:52)
10. Ring of Fire (3:20) (cover)
11. Power and Glory (5:14) (bonus track)
12. You’re Not Alone (4:46) (bonus track)
13. Chemical Interference (5:21) (bonus track)
14. Fight to be Free (4:53) (bonus track)
15. Galactic Astro (1:35) (bonus track)

Reviewed by on July 21, 2014

"Sometimes I just need some high-voiced, frilly shirt fancy-boys to get all emotional and serenade me about sailing and sea monsters and quests and love and whatever else. This isn’t it."

Dragonforce has been around for one-and-one-half decades and “Maximum Overload” is the group's sixth proper full-length, yet saying anything meaningful about the band now is difficult as it really doesn't try to do anything new. But of course, that isn't the point. The point is to DO AS MUCH OF EVERYTHING AS YOU POSSIBLLY CAN. And - unsurprisingly - Dragonfroce does exactly that.

A few subtle differences from previous albums come though as things are a bit more intense. Opener “The Game” has some drumming that sounds like blast beats if you squint your ears. The riffs are more immediate and less meandering - the band finds the chords and hammers them over and over. The songs are shorter: the longest clocks in just under seven minutes, and seven of the fifteen (including bonus tracks) are shorter than five minutes. The mid-song rest stops with synths and sing-song-y “oooooh-aaaahs” are mostly gone.

I imagine a concerted effort was made to focus and trim and just get down to the rocking. But that is exactly the problem. “Maximum Overload” is just one note, full-speed, straight ahead blasting, which isn’t Dragonforce’s strength. “Three Hammers” is the standout simply because it has different parts than the rest. “Symphony of the Night” and “The Sun Is Dead” almost stand out, but both need a couple extra minutes to get back around to the proper end.

Past personal favorite “The Last Journey Home” from (ironically) “The Ultra Beatdown” is a full, well, journey, with contrasts and highs and lows and story and drama. Dragonforce needs the space of longer songs and the compositional freedom to put in all the extra crap or else all of Herman Lee’s heroics are just bullets getting piled into my long-dead ears.

Talented players and composers like the members of Dragonforce are never going to make a bad album and there is still plenty here for the fast-guitar-and-fist-in-the-air-chorus crowd. However, if I want a straight-forward blasting I’ll listen to “…And Justice for All” or whatever Darkthrone is lying around. Sometimes I just need some high-voiced, frilly shirt fancy-boys to get all emotional and serenade me about sailing and sea monsters and quests and love and whatever else. This isn’t it.

Highs: The variation on “Three Hammers” recalls a more compositionally complex time.

Lows: The “Ring of Fire” cover - neat idea that just didn’t work.

Bottom line: Trimmed down is not better for these neo-prog vets.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)