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   DRAGONFORCE
Valley Of The Damned
2003
Noise Records
http://www.dragonforce.com


rating: 4/5

1. Invocation Of Apocalyptic Evil
2. Valley Of The Damned
3. Black Fire
4. Black Winter Night
5. Starfire
6. Disciples Of Babylon
7. Revelations
8. Evening Star
9. Heart Of A Dragon
This is finally the long awaited debut album from DragonForce that was delayed a few times at least. With a few other ones they're one of the leading bands of the new attack of British melodic power metal. DragonForce consists of five members and the music includes all the elements that are needed for a top notch melodic power metal output. With great anticipation I put the cd into the player...

The album starts with a short intro and shortly after that the title track comes blasting with speed that leaves race horses wondering what the hell just happened. All the songs are provided with memorable and catchy melodies for which we have the guitar duet of Sam Totman and Herman Li to be thankful for as they have written all the music on this album. The frantic pace that DragonForce attacks with seizes, only temporarily though, when "Starfire" comes with it's soothing and mellow melodies and atmosphere. The rest of the album rages on again with the speed of light. The hyperspeed combined with such uplifting melodies and choruses that remain ringing in your head are an assured proof of the band's quality. Especially songs like "Valley of the Damned", "Black Winter Night" and "Revelations" are the kind that really stick to your head.

The fact that the keyboards aren't that prominent is both surprising and refreshing as most this kind of bands tend to lean on the massive use of keyboards. ZP Theart, the singer of the band, is very good, albeit there are lots of skilled power metal singers nowadays and it may be easier to be lost in the army of new rising stars, but he sounds good indeed with his high-pitched voice which is, as a separate matter, almost a stereotype in the power metal genre. As skilled as the guitar playing is, some of the soloing seems like it's a bit too much at times and occasionally sounds like it lacks some passion, but in general all the playing is nothing short of amazing. The production is clear enough, yet in a weird way it leaves something to hope for. Although I'm personally not too keen on lyrics about warriors and dragons and stuff like that, it doesn't bother because at the end of the day it is the music that matters. And that brings me to saying that instead of constantly steaming full speed ahead a little variation in the tempos wouldn't hurt. To conclude things I must say, considering that this is a debut album, it sounds like quite a mature one and is certainly enjoyable to listen to. Recommended for fans of melodic power metal to check out and get addicted.

submitted by Aleksi 01.01.2003

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