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Album Review: Dragonforce – Reaching Into Infinity

I really should stop being so surprised that Dragonforce is capable of writing actual songs. 2012’s The Power Within proved that the band could show restraint and do more than just shred for the sake of shredding. 2014’s Maximum Overload was a bit more inconsistent in comparison but it managed to keep the momentum going. Reaching Into Infinity (and beyond?) sees Dragonforce holding to their signature brand of extreme power metal and managing to keep the ship afloat.

For all the changes that have happened in the last decade, Dragonforce isn’t that dramatically different as a band. The songs are still shorter on average than their early albums but they still mostly consist of shredding guitars, blasting drums courtesy of newcomer Gee Anzalone, over the top vocals, and the occasional electronic outburst. Unfortunately, this also means that the fast songs still feel the same. Thankfully their chorus writing is a little more consistent, with “Midnight Madness” in particular managing to stick out.

Fortunately, things do get a little more varied as the album goes on. It’s been a tradition since Valley of the Damned for Dragonforce to tack a power ballad onto each album, but “Silence” just might be the most emotional one they’ve put out so far. Elsewhere, the thrash influence and more aggressive vocals on “War!” suggest that Matt Heafy’s influence on Maximum Overload may still be lingering here.

But with this said, “The Edge of the World” is the real head-turner on here. As someone who thought Dragonforce’s older songs generally went on for too long and praised the band for opting for shorter lengths in recent years, I have to appreciate the irony of the best song on here being the longest one they’ve ever released. But rather than making this song an eleven minute shredfest, it is a largely mid-tempo anthem that gradually picks up more extreme metal influence and surprisingly tactful solos by the band’s standards. No idea why they went with “The Final Stand” as the album’s closer though; it really seems like it should’ve gone before…

Overall, Reaching into Infinity isn’t too dramatically different from its predecessors, but I don’t think Dragonforce has ever sounded this comfortable. For better or worse, the band doesn’t seem to be trying so hard to impress their lovers or haters. Listeners with the bitter taste of Inhuman Rampage still on their tongues are advised to give the band another chance but I’d say Valley of the Damned or The Power Within are the best places to go about doing so.

Highlights:
“Silence”
“Midnight Madness”
“The Edge of the World”

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