DragonForce - The Liquid Room, Edinburgh, Wed 17 Sep 2014
Ridiculous but unapologetic virtuoso speed-metal hampered by technical gremlins
Like an over-amped 80s metal band, DragonForce play with power, speed and intensity. Why settle on one guitar solo when you can have five? The 'Force sound like every Iron Maiden album ever recorded all playing at once, on double speed, so it’s disappointing that there’s muddy sound as they launch into ‘Defenders’. The band are all about musicianship and you need crystal clear acoustics to revel in their sonic theatrics. Not a great start to their first night on their Maximum Overload tour, it’s cleared up by the second track, 'Fury of the Storm', but new(ish) singer Marc Hudson’s vocals are far too low in the mix. A genuine shame as, while departed frontman ZP Theart rocked a wicked falsetto, on new tracks (particularly ‘Three Hammers’ and ‘The Game’) Hudson demonstrates a heavier style. This Dragon has never growled and roared before.
Fortunately DragonForce focus on musical technique rather than vocals, specifically Herman Li’s superhuman guitar work. He shreds, double taps and picks like a virtuoso. It’s astounding to watch, his fingers a blur across the fret board. Their music is just a vehicle for Li’s astonishing solos, ably demonstrating the links between classical and metal: the arpeggios, staccato scales and full blown bombast.
The rest of the band are no slouches either, especially Sam Totnes on second guitar; there’s even time for several keytar solos from Vadim Pruzhanov on synths. There are numerous magnificent foot-on-the-monitor, guitar-aloft moments. DragonForce revel in the sheer exuberant joy of recklessly fast metal all powered by a death metal blast beat from new drummer Gee Anzalone. It's utterly ridiculous but unapologetic. Due to the venue's curfew they are forced to cut their set short, however there's always time for epic closer 'Through the Fire and Flames' (which many will know from Guitar Hero III) a blizzard of guitar gymnastics. It's just a shame a few technical gremlins hampered the show.
'Fury of the Storm'
'Black Winter Night'
'The Sun Is Dead'
'Reasons to Live'
'Symphony of the Night'
'Through the Fire and Flames'