"Killer Elite"

By Professor Jocko

If you are already a DragonForce fan, then there is not much I can tell you that you probably don’t already know. Hailing from London, England, DragonForce isn’t your typical British band. They really aren’t your typical United States band either, as far as that goes. They have been coined as a “power metal” band, but with so many influences and diversity in the music that they play, it is very hard to pinpoint any particular group or style. They definitely have the hard-edge appeal, which is even more so enforced which their retro video game influenced sound. However, there are several songs that will surprise you and make you realize that these guys are extremely talented musically. Their fantasy-them lyrics and intricate guitar solos really capture the meaning behind each sound.

"Killer Elite" is a double disc LP, and in fact, a best of album; coming off the heels of their sixth studio album, "Maximum Overload". When trying to pinpoint DragonForce’s idiosyncratic sound, you will have to combine the lyrics, production style, unique arrangements, and incorporation of different instruments and tools they use to set them apart from the rest. Although I’m not completely familiar with their entire catalogue, my first exposure to DragonForce came several years back when I bought their fourth studio album titled, "Ultra Beatdown" which featured, "Heroes of Our Time", making a well-deserved appearance on this album. I love the anthem theme to this song, reinforced by the exciting drum patterns and fluid vocals that tie it together with the detailed instrumental rhythms. This song has sort of a different appeal to me in the sense that some parts seem like the power metal that I grew up on in the 1980’s. Combine this with the intricate guitar solos, and you have one hell of a cool song.

There are far too many songs on this album for me to respond to, and with six members in DragonForce, will be monotonous to expand on the individual talents of each member. I can safely say, however, that there is definitely a mainstream style here; not only with the music itself, but the vocals as well. This is also in part to the fact that DragonForce has seen some personnel changes over the years, more notably with the lead singer. In 2011, Marc Hudson made his debut with the band, and has already recorded two albums; The Power Within and their latest LP, "Maximum Overload". However, due to the fact that guitarists and founding members Herman Li and Sam Totman are still with the group, hasn’t affected their dynamic style. There are many songs between both discs which seem to virtually stand alone on vocals. Although the guitar riffs and drums hold it together musically, Marc Hudson demonstrates that you can use several different vocal ranges between the verse and main chorus. There are also many versatile changes here where guitar pitch-bends and arpeggios combine with the mixing effects, complimenting these different styles.

There are many tracks that I would consider my favorites from the album; each have their individual qualities, but as a whole each song seems to get away from the usual sequence of how most songs go where a verse, chorus and guitar solo are the main components. Although these elements are included in these songs, each track is more like a story of mystical qualities. Perhaps the title of each song lends itself to this, but the arrangement of each one has certain start and stop points that break up the song very effectively which goes through more of an evolution where the melodies carry the weight of the tune,