Look up the word "juggernaut" in the dictionary and you may just find Dragonforce's photo alongside the definition. Not only does it aptly describe the nature of their hyperkinetic "extreme power metal," but also their vertiginous ascent from utter music community obscurity to new media, errr...juggernaut, when their breakthrough single, "Through the Fire and Flames," became first a YouTube sensation and later a keystone of the Guitar Hero video game phenomenon. This transition -- largely based on the new millennium's most unapologetic display of guitar shredding yet -- propelled the surprising sales of the sextet's third album, Inhuman Rampage, and laid quite a foundation for its much anticipated follow-up, 2008's Ultra Beatdown, which, among other things, will face immediate accusations of repeating its predecessor's winning formula (not to mention key song title words like ''Flame," "Fire," ''Storm," etc.). But this accusation doesn't hold much water in the historical scope of the power metal genre -- a genre that has barely evolved beyond the basic template set down by Helloween's form-defining Keeper of the Seven Keys, Pt. 1, all the way back in 1987. By those standards, Dragonforce's aforementioned guitar shredding and extreme metal intensity alone already qualify as rather radical innovations. What's more, even though frenetic new tracks like "Heroes of Our Time" and "The Fire Still Burns" evidently descend from the band's signature hit (memorable for Herman Li and Sam Totman's ever-spectacular solos more than any innovative songwriting traits), Ultra Beatdown introduces several new elements into the Dragonforce sound -- not the least of which being more abundant, subsonic tempos. Previously wheeled out almost exclusively for the band's mercifully rare, intolerably saccharine ballads (oftentimes wimpier than Journey, and here represented by a somewhat more palatable drunken soccer anthem called "A Flame for Freedom"), these frequently provide welcome breaths of air amidst the album's still prevailing maelstrom. "Reasons to Live," for example, adopts a tango-like rhythm for its solo break, capped by a stunning synthesizer flurry from Vadim Pruzhanov; "Heartbreak Armageddon" boasts a surprising psychedelic flavor in its midsection; and "The Warrior Inside" breaks up Li and Totman's usual six-string frenzy with a stately orchestrated synth section -- plus a soaring finale led by vocalist ZP Theart. And with standouts like "The Last Journey Home" and its only slightly less distinguished fellow epic, "Inside the Winter Storm," the band shows greater dynamic range than usual, arguably earning some definitive "progressive" metal credentials once and for all, beyond the sheer extended lengths of the songs. All of the above is still couched within the band's general extreme power metal template, mind you, complete with tireless drummer Dave Mackintosh (still quicker than a humping heavy metal hamster) and hapless bass player Frédéric Leclercq, who is unselfish enough not to mind remaining mostly invisible throughout. So that about covers the Ultra Beatdown "juggernaut": come for the guitar solos, stay for the music. Power metal may not be the most inventive musical style on the planet, but Dragonforce are making it more exciting than most anyone else has for quite some time.
Performance CreditsDragonforce Primary Artist
Clive Nolan Keyboards,Background Vocals
Herman Li Guitar,Background Vocals,Group Member
Sam Totman Guitar,Background Vocals,Group Member
ZP Theart Vocals,Background Vocals,Group Member
Vadim Pruzhanov Keyboards,Theremin,Background Vocals,Group Member
Frederic Leclercq Bass Guitar
Dave Mackintosh Drums
Technical CreditsKarl Groom Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
Steve McTaggart Management
Matt Read Graphic Design
Herman Li Arranger,Composer,Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
Sam Totman Arranger,Composer,Producer,Audio Production
ZP Theart Arranger,Composer
Vadim Pruzhanov Arranger,Composer
Android Jones Cover Art
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Ultra Beatdown based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Every Single Made me go wild and nearly gave my mom a heart attack!! Who can listen to this and not like power metal. Their music gets better every album although Through the Fire And Flames remains my favorite.
this band is just awesome and amazing this band is the best of the best enough said
It's rare that something goes so far beyond parody, so past ridiculous, and so delightfully and cosmically comical, but remains as passionate, pure, and true as this band does. Dragonforce wears their influences on their sleeve, make no mistake. It's derivative, hokey, and will never be considered subtle or original, and thank God for that! This is the most empowering, geeked-out explosion of face-melting guitar, runway elephant drumming, and hurculean vocals you will ever hear. It's full-tilt wizzard rock to the unbelievable extreme and is beyond hipster disses and critical put-downs. Dragonforce is a force of nature. The sonic landscape they create is like something out of your wildest imagination. That tired old cliche about seeing colors? Believe it man. If this album doesn't move you to put on your viking helmet, grab your broad sword, and hop onto your wooden ship and head straight into that celestial Valhalla, check your pulse. This is as good as power metal gets and will get. Buy this record now.