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Ultra Beatdown

Roadrunner (2008)
Rating: 5/10

Known for their incredibly talented musicianship (anyone played them on Guitar Hero?) London-based DragonForce have enjoyed main stage success on both Ozzfest and 2008’s Rockstar Mayhem Festival among other well-publicised tours.

Ultra Beatdown is DragonForce’s fourth opus and, although plenty tongue-in-cheek, with it they firmly establish themselves as one of rock’s most powerful acts. Imagine the Scorpions and Dream Theater in a blender and you have a good idea of what DragonForce offers here.

The name of the game on Ultra Beatdown is bombast. This album is loud, melodic, anthemic, and most of all, insanely fast. The band apparently see no need to ever go any slower than 100mph as evidenced by the songs ‘Heroes Of Our Time’, ‘The Fire Still Burns’, ‘The Warrior Inside’ (which doesn’t even slow down when it hits the “slow part”) and ‘The Last Journey Home’. Each could easily be a B-side from the Inhuman Rampage (2006) album and are likely leftovers from those sessions. If they aren’t leftovers then the band is completely unconcerned with moving their sound forward. I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt here though.

Though the vast majority of this album sounds almost exactly the same as their previous works, ‘Inside The Winter Storm’ manages to capture a groove that, although uncharacteristic, is a nice change of pace from the rest of the album. Likewise, ‘Heartbreak Armageddon’ offers a lengthy, slow solo that is reminiscent of some of the lesser known 80s hard rock bands soloing (think Badlands and Gorky Park). Fortunately, it doesn’t sound out of place or cheesy. You find yourself thankful for these small moments as they allow the listener a chance to catch a much needed breath.

Overall, if you are a musician it’s hard to deny the elevated levels of talent in this band, even if you don’t particularly enjoy the tempo or the over the top antics. There’s a good reason people are talking about DragonForce. Realistically though, the world doesn’t need this album. DragonForce offer nothing new here, it’s just more of the same and if you didn’t like it before you have literally no reason to check this album out as it’s merely an extension of Inhuman Rampage. I suppose if you already have any of DragonForce’s albums you don’t really need to have another.

Mark Fisher

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