Synthwave meets speed metal
DragonForce’s eighth studio full-length album, Extreme Power Metal, will be the last to feature bassist Frédéric Leclercq while being the first in which Vadim Pruzhanov, longtime keyboardist, isn’t featured. With a distinct sound, the British power metal band can always be recognized by the guitar solos in their songs and this album delivers on them.
Guitarists Herman Li and Sam Totman—the only two members who have been in the band since its creation in 1999— excel at the unfathomable speed achieved. The lead single, “Highway to Oblivion,” immediately submerges fans into their retro video game and funkadelic space adventure they channel in Extreme Power Metal. The cover art looks like a poster from a sci-fi fantasy movie and the music video of the lead single exudes Tron. The second track of the album, “Cosmic Power of the Infinite Shred Machine,” continues on the same lines and listeners will find themselves nodding their head along and appreciating the skills displayed.
“The Last Dragonborn” is one of the standout songs of the album because of its Asian-inspired sounds; it starts off traditional with the banging of a gong and soft notes from a wind instrument. Quickly, the song shifts when Gee Anzalone transitions the song with a short drum overlap and then the guitars make themselves known. Two other songs that stand out because of their distinct sound are “Razorblade Meltdown” and “Remembrance Day” which feature a piano and a Scottish bagpipe sequence respectively.
Honestly, it’s no surprise that each track could be highlighted for their goosebump-inducing guitar solos. Some may find themselves more drawn to solo in “Troopers of the Stars” while others praise the talent in “In a Skyforged Dream.” For the final track, “My Heart Will Go On,” listeners will recognize the lyrics and get to experience a Celine Dion song as they have never heard before.
Overall, this album is unequivocally DragonForce with a similar structure found throughout their career and recognizable, fast-paced guitar solos. Even though the band tends to have a similar structure in their songs, people will not find themselves bored. From Valley of the Damned, their first album, to Extreme Power Metal, DragonForce continues to create compelling compositions and enjoy themselves as they do so. This time around, they made synth-wave and speed metal mesh in an aesthetically pleasing way. People can not deny that the band fully commits themselves to the theme and vibe this album displays.