1. Highway To Oblivion
2. Cosmic Power Of The Infinite Shred Machine
3. The Last Dragonborn
4. Heart Demolition
5. Troopers Of The Stars
6. Razorblade Meltdown
8. In A Skyforged Dream
9. Remembrance Day
10. My Heart Will Go On
The cover art to this, the eighth studio album from the infamous Dragonforce, hints at a very eighties theme. And when I say “hints”, I actually mean “punches you in the face with neon”. But I wasn’t prepared for how the opening sounds. It really sounds like something very eighties indeed, but not much like Dragonforce at all. “What is going on?” I wondered, “Have they had a complete sound change and decided to try out the traditional eighties Metal sound complete with chunky synths and slow, reverb-heavy vocals? Is this the new Dragonforce?”
And then, at 1:20 into 'Highway To Oblivion' (the opening track), the traditional Power Metal, super fast dual guitars come roaring in, and you realise that all is right with the world. This is a Dragonforce album through and through, and the more I listen, the more I am reminded of what a good thing this is.
Just like many people, my first real experience with Dragonforce was their breakthrough track 'Through The Fire And The Flames' from 2006, and while I have enjoyed albums from them after that, I always found them to be full of ups and downs, usually having just one or two too many similar sounding songs to be stand-out amazing albums – but this isn’t the case with 'Extreme Power Metal'. This album is superb.
As an opener, 'Highway To Oblivion' smashes it out of the park, effortlessly reminding you of the beauty of Dragonforce, before heading into the best titled track on the album – 'Cosmic Power Of The Infinite Shred Machine'. And here, again, you feel the eighties influence in full force, particularly with the keyboard solo which genuinely feels like it could be the soundtrack to a Sonic the Hedgehog level (and I mean that as one of the highest compliments!). 'The Last Dragonborn', on the other hand, slows the pace down a little and gives us a singalong anthem that should, in all rights be up there with other classics of the genre.
And I could keep going – 'Heart Demolition' starts with a great riff, 'Razorblade Meltdown' is so fast that I’m amazed any band members have any fingers left, and this hot streak continues on throughout… well, I’ll be honest, I had real problems identifying a weak link on the album! My least favourite track is probably 'Remembrance Day' – not that it is bad at all, it’s just not quite as interesting and visceral as the rest of the album. And then you get track 10. The surprise of the album.
I’ll be honest with you – when I get an album to review, I rarely look at the track names. I like to keep as much a surprise as I can. So when track 10 started, I was very weirded out to hear some synth cover of a popular nineties easy listening hit. “Maybe they are just referencing it for fun”, I thought… and then at forty seconds the rest of the band come in, and you realise – this is for real. This is a Dragonforce cover of Celine Dion’s 'My Heart Will Go On'. And it is absolutely perfect. I love it.
So there you have it – 'Extreme Power Metal' not only does what it says on the tin, but it does it with a cheeky grin, some good humour, and some absolutely amazing musicianship. The songs are memorable, the production is superb, and the relentless pace of this album is absolutely what you need in this life – particularly if, like me, you find this genre both enthralling and exciting. Some days you want nothing more than to be propelled towards some kind of musical nirvana at an ever-increasing speed, and this album will definitely do that for you. With 'Extreme Power Metal', the band are stronger than ever, and they are still a (Dragon)Force to be reckoned with. (Sorry).
Website - https://dragonforce.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/dragonforce/
Review - Michael Braunton