Review : DRAGONFORCE – "Twilight Dementia"

DragonForceTwilight Dementia
Release Date: 2010Sep14 (US)
Label: Roadrunner
Rating: 3/5

DragonForce is one of the most engaging and exciting live bands I’ve ever had the pleasure to both see and photograph. The shameless mugging, the half-serious one-upmanship, the radiant energy: all make for scintillating shows. I would be lying if I said the band’s first double-live album failed to do its best at capturing this essence, but there is no denying that there is just something missing.

Currently, that something is literally vocalist ZP Theart, who recently left DragonForce. While he is quite the charismatic frontman, the guy just cannot seem to keep from swearing. While it is expected in the live setting to some degree, it makes radio play outside of “safe harbor” a task of anticipation, with fingers hovering over the cough button. Either that, or hours of ripping, cleaning, and burning the edits. Considering they are on the biggest damned Metal label out there—who often see fit to provide FCC-safe versions of their releases—I am unclear why they dropped the ball on one of their hottest commodities.

DragonForce is musical jouissance: where pleasure extends beyond the realms of enjoyment and touches into pain. Jacques Lacan identified the pleasure principle as that which functions to limit enjoyment, for our brains have difficulty comprehending the excess. The odd thing about this band is their very need to be simultaneously accessible yet unreachable. Musically, the achieve this by combining similar song structures with fretboard wizardry to hold your attention before blowing your mind. Lyrically, they juxtapose the impossible to fathom (eternity, the universe, forever, all our lives) with more mundane factors (carrying on, survival, sacrifice). But if the band now seems illusory, you would only be partially correct.

DragonForce deeply believes in their creative product, and are experts at their craft. However, it is important, when looking at career-spanning releases like Twilight Dementia, to pay attention to the band’s progression. This album serves as a reminder that the band needs songs like “Reasons to Live” in order to improve their repertoire. And they should keep Frédéric growling backup—it helps distinguish “Operation Ground and Pound” as much as the blazing solos, perhaps more so. Any way you slice it, this is both necessary for longtime fans (especially as the only official live ZP document thus far) and a good cross-section for new fans unfamiliar with the back catalogue. Getting crazy in the nighttime never felt so frenetic.

FCC: ALL

Disc 1

01. Heroes of Our Time
02. Operation Ground and Pound
03. Reasons to Live
04. Fury of the Storm
05. Fields of Despair
06. Starfire
07. Soldiers of the Wasteland

Disc 2

01. My Spirit Will Go On
02. Where Dragons Rule
03. The Last Journey Home
04. Valley of the Damned
05. Strike of the Ninja
06. Through the Fire and Flames

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