DragonForce

Our innate tribalism tends to typically find an outlet through politics, sports etc – but they manifest within other social spheres also. Art is no exception; metal definitely is not. T-shirts, tattoos and band patches – all signal tribal association. Instinctively adopting a genre identity and defending those musical sensibilities is a commonplace. Labels, artists and the other marketing aspects of the ecosystem are also an accentuating factor here.

Years ago I used to frequent this bar, they mostly played 70s to 90s metal. So you could find a wide variety of old-school metal-heads being regulars there. Before these metallers split into factions, sub-factions and more nuanced quibbling sub-categories – there were two broad species – those who listen to power-metal and those who despised it. Needless to say, each considered the other as poseurs. The polarizing quality of power metal cannot be any more evident. I guess melodramatic compositions and fantasy themes are not everyone’s cup of tea!

It’s difficult to identify sounds which might appease both these battling tribes, but DragonForce is a definite contender. This late 90s British band is a form of anachronism – classic power metal blueprint, but also extremely technical. In short, its power metal with razor-sharp progressions and that sonic intensity of 80s thrash.

Sheer speed of the guitar solos can make passages resemble Super Mario music. Herman Li and Sam Totman’s dual guitar harmony is melodic and maddeningly precise. Aggressive bass lines, blazing leads and blast beats are all quintessential extreme metal elements. While those fantasy themed lyrics, high pitched clean vocals and catchy choruses tailored for large arenas – all indicate Ronnie James Dio/Rob Halford lineage of power metal. DragonForce may not be genre-bending revolutionaries, but they might just manage to placate two seemingly irreconcilable tribes.

By Andreas Lawen, Fotandi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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