All the usual flash-over-substance

Since their breakthrough, DragonForce has been a band that can be counted on to pretty much do the same thing with each album.

There have been subtle changes and nuanced movements in different directions now and then, but overall you pretty well know what to expect when a new DragonForce album comes out.

Reaching into Infinity doesn’t really change the formula they’ve established over the previous six albums, light-speed ultra-shred with soaring, piercing vocals, songs about epic battles and being awesome – it’s all there. The material is a combination of their superfast style from the ZP days and the slightly scaled back stuff they’ve been doing since, and it’s all the usual flash-over-substance that they’ve turned into a somewhat lucrative artform.

Unfortunately, it just doesn’t ring true anymore, if it ever really did. Breathtaking speed and histrionic guitar/keys battles can only carry any band so far, and by halfway through this album was starting to feel like it was going on and on for eternity. Then just when you think they couldn’t keep going, ‘The Edge of the World’ is a ridiculous eleven-minute epic that, to be fair, does display a level of creativeness that the rest of Reaching Into Infinity hardly attains, even if it retains all of the regular tropes. There’s the clean appegiated opening, twin guitar harmonies the build into a standard power metal track, a very Maidenesque meandering section at about five minutes in and then at 6:23 there’s a pseudo melo-death freak out section with Marc Hudson pulling off a reasonable coarse growl. It’s a genuinely surprising and welcoming section that adds some real colour to an otherwise pretty bland album that wears out its welcome long before the hour-long (!) playing time has ended. Only truly bolted-on fans will probably sit this one out until the very end. Everyone else will have found something else to do long before that.

1. Reaching Into Infinity
2. Ashes of the Dawn
3. Judgement Day
4. Astral Empire
5. Curse of Darkness
6. Silence
7. Midnight Madness
8. War!
9. Land of Shattered Dreams
10. The Edge of the World
11. Our Final Stand