Live at The House of Blues
September 18, 2009
Review and Photos by Travis Baumann
Dragonforce are simply put, a spectacularly articulate metal band that blend a massive guitar assault with excellent use of keyboards and a very talented vocalist to embody a poweful live experience.
Known for their nearly unprecedented guitar work, both in terms of shear speed of playing, but also in musical expression they have become quite popular due to their presence in the Guitar Hero video game world.
The sold out show filled with nine year old kids and their parents can attest to their current commercial fandome but even us diehard metal fans cannot get enough of their onslaught.
The band has been around for nearly nine years now and with four major releases under their belts, they had a lot of material to draw from and rather than just focusing on their newest or most popular tracks, they treated us to a set that covered all of their work over the years.
The set opened with "Fury of the Storm" off of their sophmore release Sonic Firestorm. They feature two outstanding lead guitarists, Herman Li and Sam Totman, either of which most metal bands will have had to sell their souls to the devil to get in their band and the two play off of each other expertly.
Their bandmates consist of the very entertaining and talented Vadim Pruzhanov on keyboards, Frederic Leclercq on Bass, their awesome frontman, ZP Theart, and hidden back behind his drum kit, Dave Mackintosh.
For their second song they did "Heros Of Our Time" off their latest album, Ultra Beatdown. As with many of their songs, there is a very uplifting, almost spiritual quality both to the delivery as well as the lyrics. All of the band members sing together for the chorus sections lending just the right power and atmosphere to elevate these songs to yet another level.
Next they did "Reasons to Live" also off of Beatdown and then for their fourth song they went to their very first release Valley of the Damned for "Disciples of Babylon" followed by "Starfire" off that same album. Their old material was awesome to see live and fit right in with their current material as they have been very consistent in style through out all of their releases.
At this point everyone but Vad left the stage and he proceeded to do a keyboard solo that was quite amazing. It ranged from industrial style dance to just plane crazy but was very entertaining to watch as he ran around the stage and danced while he played his keytar. A portion of the audience stood their semi awe struck as this was not typical metal or expected but I thought it was awesome.
Everyone else returned to the stage at this point and they went into "Operation Ground and Pound" off of Inhuman Rampage. This is a great song and like most of their entire cataloge clocks in at nearly eight minutes involving multiple guitar solos and a brilliant brutal pace.
"Fields of Despair" off of Sonic Firestorm was next and they followed that with an extremely rare song, "Where Dragons Rule" off of the Japanese edition of "Valley of the Damned" which I have not found yet anywhere to purchase but I did locate it online to listen to and it is awesome. Like many of their songs, it could be their theme song with its subject matter and lyrics.
The audience sang along to many of the songs and was a constant flow of crowd surfers and enthusiastic head bangers. They really went wild when the lead singer announced the next song, "The Last Journey Home", their second single off of the newest album Ultra Beatdown.
They finished off the set with "Valley of the Damned" the title track off of their first album and then everyone left the stage.
After a thunderous chant for them to return to the stage they made their way back out and broke into a lively verison of "Strike of the Ninja" off of the deluxe edition of Ultra Beatdown.
As they finished the song, the lead singer said that was the shortest song they had, which was just under four minutes and he isn't kidding, the next closest is pretty much six minutes and everything else is seven to nine minutes long which I love about them.
For their second encore track and the final song of the evening they finally did the song that all the younger audience had been waiting for, "Through the Fire and the Flames" off of Inhuman Rampage. This is the song that was featured in the Guitar Hero game and was met with a tumultous roar.
At one point the lead singer grabbed a couple of the kids out of the audience and had them play air guitar next to the two guitarists and Herman let one of them strum his guitar while he did the fancy finger work.
After a hug from the lead singer they were let back into the audience and the band finished off their spectacular set with a couple more stunning solos and then finally wrapped up with a collective bow and tossed guitar picks, drum sticks, set lists, and water bottles into the screaming fans, concluding the festivities. They were great live and fullfilled all of the audience's expectations and then some.
They really are impressive musicians to watch and while pulling off these massive feats of performanc the other members would often feign indifference, shrugging or make masturbatory hand gestures about the other's performance to keep each other's egos in check. I enjoyed their use of risers and constant changing of positions, bringing a focus to the musicianship of each of the members while Dave, despite being hidden in the back, pounded out a flawless set of high speed songs.
Despite such a young fanbase, these guys delivered an adult metal show, members of the band chugging from giant bottles of Jack Daniels or drinking beers. They didn't hold back on language either so it was fun to watch parents freak out with the corruption of their children and that is what they get bringing them to a concert of this nature!
All in all, it was a fantastic experience and I highly recommend any fans new or old to go check them out and their tour mates Sonata Arctica are great as well. Just parents be warned, despite them appearing in a video game, they do not pull their punches.
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