Reaching Into Infinity…and Beyond! How Dragonforce Have Evolved On Their New Album
15th May 2017, 09:00
Posted by Chris
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You’ve probably heard of Dragonforce. They are that really fast band with that song that was near impossible to conquer on Guitar Hero. While that was arguably the point that shot the band on to the mainstream, the band in the current day are seemingly wanting to do more to leave their mark in metal as the band that wrote those great songs, not just the video game band. We spoke to guitarist Herman Li and vocalist Marc Hudson about how Dragonforce have evolved on their upcoming album, ‘Reaching Into Infinity‘.

When one mentions Dragonforce to any metal fan, the first thing that springs to mind is the band that plays really fast has has a lot of guitar shredding. While that is the cornerstone of their sound, it took a change in the band’s line-up to force a rethink of what the band were doing. After four albums of the same, Dragonforce seemed more keen on writing music that would make them remembered as a metal icon.

The first album the band released with vocalist Marc Hudson was seemingly a turning point on their approach to songwriting. Shorter tracks with more intricate detail, adopting a different set of elements that struck a rawer tone than the electro-infused atmosphere of albums past. The more noticeable elements were the fact that Dragonforce had a much more diverse array of tempos than before, filling out albums with tracks that played on the fault line of faster and slower than what a fan would be used to.

When I first listened to ‘Reaching Into Infinity‘, the first reaction was, ‘this is different’. It wasn’t quite the Dragonforce I as a long time fan was used to, but it is definitely not the critical kind of different, quite the contrary really. It’s an album that I can best describe as one that pays homage to the traditional roots of power metal, but delivered in a manner that one would expect Dragonforce to do. I asked prolific guitarist Herman Li, ‘why the different approach this time around?’. The answer was very simple, ‘evolution’.

 

“In 2004 with the release of’Sonic Firestorm’ album, I told the record label I don’t want people to think we’re just another European power metal band. We play blast beats, we play fast all the time, so we put a sticker that says ‘extreme power metal’ – breaking boundaries all the time. Now people associate it like a genre – the Dragonforce sound – 200bpm and 10-minute solos or whatever. But it’s evolution since the ‘Maximum Overload’ album. Since then we’ve been putting more and more stuff into it, and since we added all this new stuff we realised not every song could be exactly the same.”

 

Looking back on the past two records one could tell that Dragonforce were gearing up to make a record like this one. The band seemed to focus more on delivering a memorable product by condensing their tracks with quality content, now that they have proved more than a few times that each of the members have insurmountable technical ability. How did Dragonforce come about the change in songwriting style after years of extended solos and lightning fast song progression? Marc chimed in:

 

“I think it was a completely natural thing that developed rather than us choosing to have a mid-tempo song here and there. It’s not some contrived thing that we thought ‘oh, we need to do this.’ It started even in ‘The Power Within’ with a couple mid-tempo songs that got popular…”

 

And Herman added:

 

“We also have had even faster songs on the latest records. We had ‘Fallen World’ that was 220bpm and ‘The Game’ that was 240bpm. We’re kind of pushing and pulling directions to both sides of tempo.”

 

As a more mainstream band, and one that can boast a larger worldwide audience than most metal bands, fans would all know of Dragonforce for different reasons – being discovering them through Guitar Hero, being a fan of their extreme approach to power metal, or simply enjoying their high energy performances. Everyone knows Dragonforce for their speed though, and ‘Reaching Into Infinity‘ sees that element dropped in parts in favour of demonstrating diversity. Could fans possibly get on board with this? Herman responded:

 

“The funny thing is that when we released ‘The Game’, which is the fastest Dragonforce song, 7 string guitars and all that…there were people complaining on the internet saying ‘oh my god, what have they done to their style!’. It’s insane…we end up playing songs faster and people complained…but we release the [mid-tempo] song ‘Cry Thunder’ which is the first time we ever played a mid-tempo song and not a single person complained. It’s total nonsense really. We can’t tell what people are going to think anymore. So we don’t bother trying to please!”

 

Another really noticeable change in Dragonforce’s releases of late has been the move away from fantasy-based lyrics, and tracks based around more personal experiences and feelings. On ‘Reaching Into Infinity‘ it seems to be more apparent than ever, but despite what most fans thought was nonsensical lyrics about battling dragons and completing mighty quests, the subject matters have always been consistent with the personal side of things. On the lyrical differences Marc explained:

 

“I think we did it because having a bit of meaning behind the songs is not a bad thing at all. Getting in to these deep subjects I believe adds a lot to the music, not to say that we don’t like the usual themes of power metal genre, we’ve done some of that stuff on this album. At the same time we though let’s reach out and do some stuff we haven’t done before, talk about some serious stuff and hit home a little more with what your singing about.”

 

Herman went back to the first couple of albums to reiterate that even then lyrical content had meaning:

 

“With ‘Sonic Firestorm’ we were writing stuff like that, but no-one really cared every thought we just sang about dragons. ‘Fields of Despair’, ‘My Spirit Will Go On’, ‘Once in a Lifetime’…they all had some meaning behind the lyrics…but I always say that people should interpret it in their own way.”

 

What seems to be the underlying message in the development of ‘Reaching Into Infinity‘ is that this is an album that is direct – it’s a no BS approach, and that is what underlines this band’s evolution. Dragonforce have crafted their most diverse album to date – of course the reaction will be polarised as one has come to expect with any metal release in the age of the internet, but they have delivered an album that is rife with musical changes without sacrificing their core values of high energy music and an immense display of technical ability.

Asking if the band thought the title ‘Reaching Into Infinity‘ was chosen to reflect the diversity and evolution of the band:

 

“Yea absolutely. We don’t want to make the same album all the time. We want to be evolving continuously”.

 

 

And there we have it. ‘Reaching Into Infinity‘ is Dragonforce’s definition of evolution. An opportunity in their career to really give a shot in expressing their true musical ability outside the confines of retro video game sounds, blistering solos and blast beats – and they have done a damn good job of it.

‘Reaching Into Infinity’ is released on May 19th via Metal Blade Records