There was a period back in my early high school days where I listened to DragonForce almost exclusively. I learned guitar so I could (badly) play “Through the Fire and Flames,” I wore one of the most atrocious band tees I’ve ever seen with pride, and I even made an unbelievably embarrassing PowerPoint presentation on the band’s history for a class assignment. I’m pretty sure my obsession with them stemmed from misdirected teenage hormones, which, with me being a DragonForce fan, definitely weren’t being aimed where human biology intended. That was over a decade ago, and while I don’t get the same thrill from listening to England’s premier power metal wanksters today, I still enjoy and look forward to their albums. Reaching into Infinity is no different, and while longtime fans will find much to like, its inconsistencies make it a harder sell to pretty much anyone else1.

Reaching into Infinity is, when firing on all cylinders, the best example of DragonForce at their most gloriously overblown since 2008’s Ultra Beatdown. The guitar work in particular hearkens back to the ludicrous fretboard acrobatics the band was known for at the height of their popularity. While DF’s guitar instrumentation on their last couple of albums was a bit more restrained, the mechanically executed lead guitar embellishes this time around are ever-present and ensure that there’s almost always something interesting to tune into. I’d argue that the solos on RiT are among the band’s best, fusing the ostentatious technicality of Inhuman Rampage with the uplifting harmonies of Sonic Firestorm to create the record’s best moments. In keeping with their most recent work, DragonForce presents all of this in a respectable variety of contexts, experimenting with various tempos and metal subgenres to keep things from feeling monotonous. For much of its hour long run time, Reaching into Infinity is a ton of fun.

As much as I enjoy the nostalgic thrills that wash over me in RiT’s best moments, it’s truthfully only two thirds of a good album. Starting at its halfway point, its quality begins to slip. “Silence” is a useless and extremely out of place ballad about suicide that doesn’t treat its subject matter with half the seriousness it deserves, and I can’t think of a single reason why this track exists, let alone thirteen. “War!” is a baffling excursion into straight up thrash metal featuring the lamest lyrics I’ve heard all year, while the bloated penultimate track “The Edge of the World” is plodding and joyless despite featuring an intriguing tangent into death metal at its mid-point. There are still good songs to be found in the second half, but those three tracks feel like earnest yet ultimately botched attempts to break from the band’s established formula. As the best songs from the band’s prior album Maximum Overload were the ones that sounded distinctly un-DragonForce (“The Game,” “Three Hammers”), these failures are particularly disappointing.

Aside from the experimental blunders, RiT’s best compositions are some of the most emotionally charged since vocalist Marc Hudson joined their ranks. “Midnight Madness” is unquestionably my favorite track, featuring a huge, two-part chorus and one of the band’s better “woah-oh-oh” bridges to cap off its excellent solo section. Closing number “Our Final Stand,” conversely, has a refreshingly restrained refrain that shows DragonForce capable of showing flashes of nuance. Not all of the vocal performances hit the mark, though. “Curse of Darkness” in particular, while more than a miserable little pile of Castlevania references thanks to its moody guitar lines, feels like Marc is really phoning in his performance, and overall his vocals sound weaker than they did on Maximum Overload. Production-wise this is business as usual with a questionable amount of studio manipulation going on behind the scenes. I’ve always felt this sound is an appropriate fit for the band’s bombastic approach, and as a result I find it fairly tolerable.

If the ludicrous cover art (which looks like Michael Bay shit into a can of blue paint) didn’t tip you off, Reaching into Infinity is pretty much just another DragonForce record, yet it comes across as their most inconsistent effort to date thanks to a handful of bad-to-mediocre songs. That leaves about forty minutes worth of music where the band is operating at their most technically impressive and over-the-top, and if you still find yourself charmed by their signature sound, that may just be enough to warrant a purchase. To everyone else: plug your nose and move along.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Metal Blade Records (U.S.) | earMUSIC (Europe)
Websites: dragonforce.com | facebook.com/dragonforce
Releases Worldwide: May 19th, 2017

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  1. The AMG staff eagerly await your PowerPoint sales pitch.

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  • André Snyde Lopes
  • El_Cuervo

    DragonForce are English? FUCK

    • Ha!

    • Dethjesta

      But are they?

      – Vadim Pruzhanov is Ukranian,
      – Frédéric Leclercq is French,
      – Gee Anzalone is Italian
      – Herman Li was born in Hong Kong (albeit part of Britain at the time),
      And their original vocalist, ZP Theart, is South African.

      Seems like they are an International band to me.

      • The Metal Pigeon

        Yeah but Totman who writes most of their stuff anyway is English, and a former member of Power Quest, one of the most quintessentially English power metal bands of all tid so maybe DF’s core is inherently English.

        • The Truth

          Totman is actually from New Zealand lmao.

  • David D.

    Their last album that genuinely impressed me was The Power Within. The one after that had some really cool songs but wasn’t nearly as fun to listen to as that. I may give this a spin regardless.

    • jetblindracos

      Give it a try yourself.Despite the poor score its actually very good..

  • Dethjesta

    Dude, the link to the T-Shirt doesn’t work as the eBay listing has ended. what did it look like? I need to know, I need closure.

    • Apple Tree

      Its got a terrible looking samurai-type guy holding a flaming sword

    • André Snyde Lopes

      Scroll down, it’s there.

      • Dethjesta

        It’s good and cheesy, just as I hoped it would be.

  • a glass o’ milk

    personally I can enjoy Dragonforce only in small doses. And while I don’t necessarily oppose the mentioned restraint as shown in the embedded track, I think with it the track is a bit on the bland side. can’t speak for the whole record obviously. but in terms of “Ashes Of The Dawn”, if not for the iconic guitar pleasuring, this could really be any band playing your average power metal song. the cheesy and over the top spectacle of songs like “Reasons To Live” – which I admittedly still have a soft spot for – seems to be gone

  • Zach Ward

    I ironically enjoy old dragonforce yet haven’t enjoyed anything with their new singer. If this album is partially like their old ones I’ll listen. But I’d prefer not to listen to all the bad stuff on this thing so I’m hoping someone could just tell me the good songs and I’ll appreciate it greatly. I’m lazy as shit…. sorry.

    • André Snyde Lopes

      I unironically think Valley of the Damned is one of the best power metal albums ever.

      • Zach Ward

        Id say that bout sonic firestorm. Not much a overall fan of power metal tho. Cant compare em to much.

        • The Metal Pigeon

          Sonic Firestorm is indeed one of the best power metal albums ever —- too bad it gets looked over a lot because of Inhuman Rampage. It was flawless.

    • Eldritch Elitist

      Midnight Madness is definitely the best track. I also like Astral Empire and Our Final Stand quite a bit.

    • Levly

      I quite like the opening track (after the intro), Ashes of the Dawn.

    • David D.

      You may have a better time with The Power Within or Maximum Overload, they are done in the same style as this album but I enjoyed them a lot more. If you like their older stuff you may like Tomorrow’s Kings off of Maximum Overload or Holding On from The Power Within.

    • The Truth

      WAR!, Our Final Stand, Hatred and Revenge and perhaps Astral Empire are some of the best in the album. Hatred and Revenge is pretty awesome actually.

  • ssorg

    Ha! The hormones line made me lol.

  • Wilhelm

    Dragonforce are a prime example of how you can make excellent musicianship sound really bad.

    • Here’s Johnny

      really? they have always sounded good, just can’t write songs. always been their problem.

  • nomrom3

    Ugh, I can’t stand their new vocalist. But I am not ashamed to admit that I still listen to Valley of the Damned and Sonic Firestorm.

  • VikingSchism

    I enjoy Dragonforce for the odd couple of songs, but have never found myself listening to them a lot, this album pretty much seems to be another album where I’ll single out my favourite few songs and mostly ignore the rest

    • Brent Johnson

      They are a greatest hits band imo.

      • VikingSchism

        Yes, I can agree with that, they’re one of the few bands where I listen to tracks over albums – most I listen to the albums in full when possible. My analogy is that most albums are like books, where you generally read all the chapters in order – Dragonforce is essentially a book with a grab-bag of short stories in, some better than others

  • Glad to read a review that takes Dragonforce seriously as a band. I still find them to be a lot of fun.

  • mtlman1990

    I actually enjoyed parts of this album. I’m not a huge fan of the new singer, but some of the writing was better than anything on the last few albums,

  • I’m not saying this would make a huge difference, but I wonder what the embedded track would sound like with a more powerful and more capable singer, like Russel Allen or Fabio Leone might sound like. I mean, the music is still generic and uninspired, but I have to imagine that it would be more passable with a better singer.

    • AnnieK13

      I kind of miss ZP…

  • Danny

    I always found Dragonforce to be a little too self-indulgent for my cheesy power metal needs (read: too many unmemorable solos) but I felt like the last two records saw them moving in a much more interesting direction, so I’m sad to hear this one is a step down.
    At least they still kill it live with the new guy, which seems to be more than you could say for their old lineup

  • Nahuel Benvenuto

    Dragonforce review before an Ayreon one? lol what, Dragonforce is ok, all of their songs sound too simmilar, is ok as a mindless band

  • Bryan Stroup

    I have never been able to take this band seriously. They’ve always just made me think of a faster, more technical version of Nitro.

  • Michael Saurette

    RiT?

    • Eldritch Elitist

      Reaching into Infinity. The album’s title.

      • Eldritch Elitist

        Wait. Fuck. I’m a huge fucking moron. Oops.

        • Michael Saurette

          Lmao

      • Michael Saurette

        Shouldn’t it be RiI

        • Eldritch Elitist

          For sure. I think I got stuck on “RiT” because “into” rolls so naturally into “infinity” and I focused on the “ty” in the latter word. Ah well, I’m not gonna bother the editors to fix my fuck-up.

  • Zach Murray

    Im actually really enjoying this album. Never listened to dragonforce beyond the couple of hits but ive picked up Power Within, Maximum Overload and Infinity and have been happily enjoying it. Im enjoying the bit of variety of genres present on Infinity.

    Hooray for me.

    • Robert Cochran

      I’m with you, Zach. Never been a band I followed, but this album is a ton of fun so far.

  • Jeanclaudevandamage

    Ordinary.

  • Reese Burns

    The only song by them I’ve ever enjoyed is The Game, off their last album. Such a good fucking song.

    • Eldritch Elitist

      It’s a really great melding of power and melodeath. That bridge before the chorus gives me chills. I wish they would make an entire album in that style.

      • Reese Burns

        It’s actually got some pretty touching lyrics too, something rare for power metal, since usually it’s all fantasy stuff, with no ground in reality.

        • Eldritch Elitist

          There were a couple songs like that on Maximum Overload. There’s nothing here that comes close to that, except for that awful ballad.

          • The Truth

            Kill yourself, Silence was great. (I know you’re removing my shit)

  • Nukenado

    “‘Silence’ is a useless and extremely out of place ballad about suicide that doesn’t treat its subject matter with half the seriousness it deserves, and I can’t think of a single reason why this track exists, let alone thirteen. ”
    I love this site.

    Looks like this is another album best thrown into a playlist to pick out the best songs…

  • Brent Johnson

    A band in desperate need of learning that less can be more.

  • True.Epic.Crusader

    I thought it was really great, except for the three bad songs mentioned in the article. I love LONG df songs, but Edge of the World was so boring… and “Silence” was just baffling.
    But everything else was great!!!

  • Daniel Martin

    I’ve been following Dragonforce for years here. If not for them, I wouldn’t have found Metal and I wouldn’t have found myself either.

    Compared to their other albums and songs, as a long-time listener, Reaching Into Infinity just sounds and feels different. In compared to all their other works. It has that familiar Dragonforce feel, but at the same time, it’s in a whole other league.

    With Reaching Into Infinity, they are trying something different. It’s not the greatest thing ever, but the thing is, they’re taking risks. However, I doubt most people can actually tell the difference between their older stuff and their newer stuff. They’ll just think it’s all the same. But there are distinct differences in the eras.

    Personally, Reaching Into Infinity is doing as it’s title says. They’re reaching into a new plane and finding something new with some familiar flavor.

  • kmal666

    power metal bands need to stop making music videos

  • Jeffrey Dean

    Their Dragonheart stuff is the best. I’m so pissed that it’s hard to find the original version of Valley and it’s not on Spotify. Just the newer version.

  • The Metal Pigeon

    yes the old mp3.com —- that was a great site, i discovered a lot there. I remember when Blind Guardian’s “Lord of the Rings” sailed up to number one on the charts because a bunch of metal fans collaborated to make it so.

  • Graham K

    I’ve been a fan since way back and think this is one of their best. Saw them live again last week and they are killing it. The edge of the world was outstanding live. Seriously.