Album Review: Dragonforce – Ultra Beatdown

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I was fortunate enough to grow up with a metal head as an older brother, which meant when he was babysitting, so were Iron Maiden and Megadeth. Not to mention, my bed time stories were tales from The Arsenal of Megadeth and interviews of Soundgarden with Ricki Rachtman on Headbangers Ball. Needless to say, I was raised as, and will always be at heart, a metalhead myself. The new millennium brought us a sort of drought (and waning interest) of classic metal, possibly caused by the rise of “scream” and “post-hardcore” movements. Dragonforce brought a new light to the metal world with their 2003 release of their debut, Valley of the Damned. Then, with the rapid smashing of green and yellow buttons, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, gave Dragonforce an overnight boost of fans and popularity with their infamous (and incredibly difficult to play) track, “Through the Fire and Flames.”

So, of course the metal world, myself included, became overjoyed with the news of their latest release, Ultra Beatdown. I really didn’t know what to expect with this new album. It’s pretty hard to follow up the ridiculously insane and beyond technical guitar riffs from the soon to be legendary Herman Li. What I was greeted with upon my first listen of Ultra Beatdown was a mix of emotions. I first felt a bit disappointed as it sounded nearly the same as their first three studio albums: heavy guitar riffs, incredibly fast guitar solos, and incredible vocals. After the second listen, however, I realized these were forces to be reckoned with and provided something no other metal band has today.

Ultra Beatdown is like a melting pot of all the sub genres of the metal movement. It provides everything from meaningful and powerful lyrics of Iron Maiden, to the melodic yet hard hitting choruses of rock ballads, to guitar riffs that would make Joe Satriani and Steve Vai cringe at the very sound of a single note from Li. Dragonforce has taken on the task of bringing the metal world together and back to mainstream, and have done so in a powerful way.

The first single from Ultra Beatdown, “Heroes of our Time” hits hard on every note and every hundredth of a second those notes are hit on. The album opens with a fast bang and doesn’t stop there. The snare drum in this track rings on like a machine gun firing out of your speakers. ZP Theart’s anthem-like lyrics blossom through the track, bringing back memories of so many metal anthems of the past.

Not since Iron Maiden’s “Run for the Hills” have powerful lyrics hit as hard as Ultra Beatdown’s final track, “The Warrior Inside.” It took over 25 years to bring life to lyrics in metal, but Theart has single handedly pulled it off. “Take my hand! This one last time!” will be ringing in your head for days, along with the incredible guitar and piano tracks. Other notable tracks include “The Fire Still Burns” and “The Last Journey Home.”

Dragonforce’s fourth studio album brings you what you expect; beyond epic guitar playing, incredible timing on drums, and lyrics that will haunt you for weeks to come. Ultra Beatdown is nothing out of the ordinary for Dragonforce, but does bring something new to the table for metal fans. I never imagined the likes of all metal genres being represented in 8 tracks on one album, but Dragonforce pulls it off in a way that does nothing short of impress fans and new listeners alike.

Check Out:
“Hereos Of Our Time”