It’s best to be honest. For a long time I retained a hearty cynicism about Dragon force. I just couldn’t get where they were coming from. Everything from the unrestrained showmanship to the overly technical nature of the songs grated on my senses and I did my best to avoid contact with the band assessing them as nothing more than an irritating storm in a teacup. I was wrong. How wrong became apparent after listening to the reissues of two of their older albums, ‘Valley of the damned’ (reviewed elsewhere by a colleague) and ‘Sonic Firestorm’.
What I missed the first time round is the sheer joy with which these technical riff merchants engage with their music. For all the ludicrous soloing, there’s a real passion for rock which shines through these early releases forcing me to reassess my whole conception of the band. From the opening blast of ‘My spirit will go on’ through to the final strains of ‘once in a lifetime’ you can feel the energy and enthusiasm of these extraordinary musicians. It’s power metal, true, ludicrous (and a little cheesy from time to time), but therein lies the fun of these deeply memorable songs and if you don’t find yourself humming them in the shower then you clearly suffer from amnesia!
Of course, being re-issues, there’s also the question of whether these sets are worth the expenditure. Quite simply the answer is a yes. Spinefarm have done a fantastic job of re-mastering the records, rendering the tracks with far greater clarity than before and highlighting the blistering solos with which the band have made their name. There’s also the question of extra features, in this case a bonus track (admittedly one which appeared on the Japanese version of the album) and a DVD which features live clips from Japan (filmed in 2005), interviews and commentaries. Sadly we weren’t able to actually get hold of a copy of the DVD so we can’t comment on the quality levels, but if past experience is anything to go by they are unlikely to be poor.
In all honesty it is worth getting these discs for the sparkling re-master alone, the DVDs offering a mere icing on the proverbial cake. If you have the albums already it is well worth considering a re-investment for as the band themselves admit, this is how they wanted the songs to sound in the first place. If you are new to the band, or a sceptic like me then get out there and check these releases out – you will find yourself amazed. Great stuff.