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Pour fêter ses dix ans de carrière, le groupe de power metal britannique DRAGONFORCE gratifie ses fans d'un double album live furieux et échevelé. Les amateurs y retrouveront les standards de leurs quatre albums studio dans des versions époustouflantes de vitesse et de virtuosité face à une audience chauffée à blanc. " Get ready for headbanging... "
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I know if you're looking at this you may have heard of their negative reputation playing live. This was caused by couple of high profile bad performances and poor quality call phone recording. Believe me, they only had a few bad shows. Believe it or not, but touring and playing live is actually what they do best, and they like it a whole lot more then being in the studio. I think something people always misunderstand about Dragonforce. While so many bands are all about angst, pain, violence, death, hard drug use, politics, and generally how s***y the world is. Dragonforce is about carrying on through the world which tries to hold you down and raising to your own glory, and having a good f***ing time along the way.
The first thing I should mention, which isn't a pro or con of the album, but something you should expect from most live albums in general from any band. Layers or effects which is use to enhance the studio albums is completely absent from this album. As well as the songs aren't played 100% exactly like the albums, no real noticeable sour notes or anything like that, and it adds uniqueness to each performance. So if you're some kind of audio perfectionist, get your head out of your ass and enjoy it for what it is. We're talking about Metal here, professionalism and Rock `n Roll don't even belong in the same sentence.
Each song is played great. The guys all do a good job instrumentally.
Dave's drums are flawless. Herman has way too much fun. Both him and Sam sound raw and improvise at times. Vadim plays well, giving some amazing keyboard solos. Sam, well, is a wanker. Fred you can't really hear, except in the slow part of Reason to Live. But that's nothing new. ZP is a bit of a problem. He sounds good at times, but at other times he sounds weak. This is most noticeable during My Spirit Will Go On, were it sounds like he has a sore throat or something. He doesn't really sound like giving a hundred and ten either. His voice has seem to weaken over the past year. Although it's easy to look past and rock out.
The mixing and production is extremely clean, which is what you would expect from DF. Although I feel it's a little too clean. They lowered the crowd down too much for my taste, you really only hear them when ZP gets them to participate and in-between songs. Unless the crowd was just quiet during the songs. Which I do hear Europeans do tend to shut up and listen unless given incentive to make noise. Where in America, Metal crowds tend to scream constantly unless told to shut up (which doesn't always work ;p). But I know some others people like it when you can't hear the crowd, so whatever it's a preference.
The booklet is cool. They list all the equipment, systems, crews, 2008 to 2009 tour dates, the bands they share the stage with, and how much booze they consumed through out the tour (over 10'000 bottles of beer!). Also photos from the tour, but they're nothing new if you keep up with Dragonforce.
If you're a Dragonforce fan pick this sucker up. It's definitely worth your money. And next time they're in your town or near by, go see them! The best way to experience Dragonforce is live and in person.
Twice as Fast, Twice as Loud!
It's one thing to criticize their overtly fast playing, which I am not doing. This is one talented group of musicians, no doubt about it. Herman and Sam are two of the craziest guitarists I have ever heard, and that is also their downfall. While I love the music that they make, it seems that Sam and Herman are more focused on playing with their guitars than they are on making good music. Like I said before, I love their studio albums, even if Sam and Herman do tend to get a little too self indulged, but it's because of that self indulgence that this live album falls flat. There are times when the two of them are playing the lead at one time and they neglect the rhythm part. They are both playing the harmonics and the riffing seems to fall to the wayside, leaving the live sound feeling somewhat empty. It's nice to hear the band live, and I am a huge fan of live albums, but I am a huge fan of live albums when they sound GOOD. And while this one technically does sound good, it doesn't technically sound good, if that makes any sense. I can't really explain why, but the songs feel a bit empty compared to their studio counterparts, and that has nothing to do with the keyboards or the drums or the bass, which are all spot on. It all has to do with the guitars and the vocals.
Ah, the vocals.
The thing that makes me so sad about this album is the fact that I love ZP Theart as a vocalist. In the studio, the man is a power metal beast. He has one of the best voices for the genre, and in the studio he freaking nails it... Live, however? Well, it's a big hit and miss, to be honest. He doesn't sound that bad on the opening track, 'Heroes Of Our Time', but on a lot of the tracks he sounds like he's really not interested in what is going on, and that really upsets me. I have seen what ZP can do live (just check out the live video of Valley of the Damned on that album's reissue), and here, he doesn't even come close to exhibiting that same energy or desire to put on a good show. While he is one hell of a frontman and is excellent at getting the crowd pumped, he isn't that good at delivering on the quality of the vocals that we expect after hearing how awesome he is one the albums. At his best, he actually sounds like he's trying. At his worst, he sounds like he's just doing it because he has to. If you don't believe me, listen to 'Through The Fire And The Flames', which I believe is the worst track on this album. However, I did enjoy the screaming vocals on 'Operation Ground And Pound', because, frankly, they were awesome.
The thing is is that the tracklisting was evenly spaced out between the four albums. I was happy to see Valley of the Damned, Through The Fire And The Flames, My Spirit Will Go On, and Heroes Of Our Time featured on here, along with several of their counterparts throughout their respective albums. But I would have loved a little bit more effort in the songs. The sad part is is that the band recorded several shows, which means that there are several different cuts of each of these songs, and these are the best ones to put on the album? That doesn't really say a whole lot of good for me, as far as the quality of the album, at least to the band, is concerned... Maybe I am being overly critical, but I know Dragonforce can do a whole lot better than what is presented here, and sadly we'll never know just how good they could have been since the departure of ZP, whom, since his departure, took my love for the band with him. I will never listen to anything Dragonforce releases from henceforth, because it is without ZP.
Now, I am not saying this CD is not worth a purchase if you're a DF fan, as I am. I am just saying, don't get your hopes up, cause if you do, you will be sorely disappointed. If you love DF, buy it. If you're just a casual fan, borrow it from a friend. If you hate DF, well, then there is nothing here that will change your mind, but will probably reinforce your hatred.
As most are aware "Dragonforce" have effectively established a power metal subgenre `Extreme Power Metal' (as they like to refer to) which is basically Euro-power metal with lengthy/technical solos, overblown melodies, rapidly changing tempos- and compositions that may reach ten minutes-along the traditional characteristics of the genre such as melodic choruses and vibrato-based vocals.
Perhaps a question that even the most die-hard fan of the band would have in the back of their mind is `how does their very demanding live performance come through on tape?' Well, rest assured that "Twilight Dementia" verifies that the band are just as good on stage as they are in the studio; perhaps a notch better as the drumming tends to be more intense while the vocal performance of lead singer ZP Threat is far more dramatic than his studio versions. Beyond that, the band performs each and every of their compositions to the note combining stage fun and disciplined musicianship. The production is also flawless as one can easily separate each instrument performance (despite the power metal mayhem).
I instantly fell in love with this release simply because it epitomizes achievement much like it occurred in the 70s and 80s where the band would grow one album at a time-with each release generating bigger sales and venues, at which point a live album would follow. The booklet is filled with photos of the band on stage and various memorabilia from the mammoth tour they completed.
Above all one has to respect `Dragonforce' for putting out a live album at a time when even studio albums are becoming increasingly hard to market. They have conclusively proven that the band can go the distance in the unforgiving music industry with outstanding results. Overall, a great live album for any fan of the band, or Power metal in general.
I very much hope that a live DVD follows in the near future!