DragonForce - The Power Within (3Wise Records)

New vocalist... same Dragonforce... but somehow better...
Release Date: 
12 Apr 2012 - 11:30pm

And so a new chapter begins for the Brit power metal troupe, a chapter without longtime throatsmith ZP Theart, but with new vocalist Marc Hudson – changing vocalists is a potentially career-wrecking act for any band, so how have the ol’ Inhuman Rampagers gone after the vox transplant?

Pretty well as it goes. Theart, though powerful, had a slightly generic, nasal tone to his voice that grated on the nerves after a while, whereas Hudson, though not as overtly metal as his predecessor, does have a much better all round voice on first listen.

Key songwriters Sam Totman and Herman Li have done their best to help the lad make a good first impression. Opening track Holding On affords Hudson the chance of letting rip with a glass shattering scream straight off, and he doesn’t let the side down from that moment on. His voice holds its own on material heavy and indeed heavier, but it’s on the more melodic songs that the man comes into his own. He carries the ultra poppy Seasons magnificently, and the tone of his voice throughout offers more light and shade than Theart ever could.

All of which makes for an extremely enjoyable listening experience, and bodes well for the time when the band inevitably decides to broaden its sound out a little on albums to come. That said, for much of The Power Within it remains business as usual for a band that has made its name playing everything faster than everyone else. The likes of Die by the Sword and Last Man Stands, unoriginal titles notwithstanding, certainly live up to and indeed surpass what we’ve come to expect from the band, with every member of the outfit contributing his parts at light speed throughout. If Totman and Li never fail to dazzle, then drummer Dave Mackintosh also deserves massive props for the constant battering he delivers to his long suffering kit. Bassist Frederic Leclercq  contents himself with a background role for the most part, occasionally adding some colour with the odd lightning-fast run, whilst ivory tinkler Vadim Pruzhanov also adds a bit of filigree to the bombast when he gets the chance.

But for the most part TPW is the Hudson, Li and Totman show, and these three (a new Tipton, Halford, Downing combo for the 21st century?) have combined to deliver not only this bands finest album thus far, but one of the most notable releases from a British metal act in a long while. Exciting stuff.