On September 27, power metal legends DRAGONFORCE performed at TwitchCon 2019 in San Diego, California during the opening ceremony at the Glitch Theatre, to celebrate the launch of their eighth full-length, "Extreme Power Metal". In addition to the live audience of thousands, this performance was streamed live on Twitch. Video footage of the concert can now be seen below.
Twitch is a one-of-a-kind collision of subcultures, games, communities, and streamers co-creating content around everything they're into, with over 1.3 million people participating at any moment.
Guitarist Herman Li is a Twitch partner and has livestreamed DRAGONFORCE rehearsals, album recording sessions, and live shows. DRAGONFORCE plans to stream daily from its upcoming U.S. tour, and Li will give away a guitar live on stream.
"Extreme Power Metal" is available as a CD digipak, 2LP+DL and digital. Produced in Los Angeles, California by Damien Rainaud at Mix Unlimited, "Extreme Power Metal" was also recorded, in part, on Li's livestream channel on Twitch with participation from the fans.
On the decision to name DRAGONFORCE's new studio album "Extreme Power Metal": Herman: "We actually called our music 'extreme power metal' back in 2004 when we had the sticker that said 'extreme power metal' on it. It's kind of a fun title, a bit over the top, but it goes with the theme of the new album, the artwork and everything like that."
On the 1980s video game theme that is featured on the new album's cover: Herman: "We've always had video game references in our songs and music since the first album from stuff like the 'The Last Ninja', all the way to newer stuff. It was just a natural thing; we just wanted to do what we liked, that's it. What do we like? We like this kind of stuff. That's it. [Laughs] There's no one there to stop us and say, 'You can't do it.' We have songs, obviously, with video game sounds and weird guitar playing that sounds like a video game like 'Mario [Bros]', we also wrote a song called 'The Last Dragonborn' that's about 'Skyrim', 'The Elder Scrolls' series. Even movies, like 'Starship Troopers', one of the songs is written about 'Starship Troopers' the movie. It's a mix of stuff, kind of fun stuff. Really, this is a 'fun' DRAGONFORCE album, unlike the last album which was kind of a darker, more serious album."
On whether the new song "Cosmic Power Of The Infinite Shred Machine" is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the band's reputation as guitar shredders: Herman: "It's a joke, a fun thing to say. The reason that title came, not because of only the song, because we didn't want some boring song title that's been used a million times. Not every single song on there has a crazy title, but some songs have to have kind of a title that we used to do, 'Revolution Deathsquad', 'Heartbreak Armageddon', or 'Operation Ground And Pound', some kind of silly, over-the-top titles. This is another one of them."
On embracing Twitch, the popular live streaming video game platform: Herman: "I was never into the whole social media thing. I find that a bit…I mean, when it started off, Facebook and all of that, I'm sick of people posting about their dinner and really boring stuff. Then it became an advertising platform for bands instead of social media. There's nothing special about it, most of it. [Laughs] I embraced social media now; you have no choice in the band, you have to do it. We skipped it for a few years after MySpace, funny enough. [Laughs] Then Twitch, as a guy, a tech guy, a video game guy, I signed up to it before I started streaming. I thought, 'That's a good idea. I should have a real interaction instead of posting videos that have been done and edited to death on YouTube and on whatever Facebook.' We actually get to really talk to fans and they get to interact and listen to us make the new album. It's a completely different experience. I find that way more fun. They can see the true us. When you see us playing on stage, that's my stage persona, for example. I'm very different when I take the guitar off of me. I feel like I get possessed once I play the guitar. It's a whole different thing. I thought, 'That's kind of cool for fans to see us recording an album.' Thousands of people have actually heard the new album while it was being made. They heard multiple versions of the songs, multiple versions of the solos while it was in progress."
On whether he's happy with DRAGONFORCE's progress as a band: Herman: "I'm in a very lucky position. This is what I do full-time and I enjoy what I'm doing. Obviously, I didn't have any idea what it was going to be when I started. I didn't think I would be streaming on Twitch, to be honest. I didn't think I had the personality to be live streaming, but it's going well and it's fun. I do it, and all the donation money comes in. I give it to dog rescue. Saving some dogs while doing it."
DragonForce might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I think there’s a lot to like. They’re brand of metal has been consistent for many years. Therein lies the rub, the consistancy has led to good albums, but not great albums. Their 2017 release, Reaching Into Infinity, certainly had some gems, but it’s a difficult task to recall some of those gems. Their new album, Extremely Power Metal appears to follow a similar trend.
There’s so much familiarity on Extreme Power Metal that it can quickly become detrimental to your enjoyment. After a short while, this album becomes everything that we know from DragonForce several times over. Is it fast? Of course. Are the lyrics of power metal, fantasy-type lore? Yes. But as a result, many if not all of these songs could be mixed into other albums and you’d never be able to tell the difference. It’s a similar issue I experienced with Reaching Into Infinity. Not that there’s anything wrong with consistency, but I don’t think that’s what made DragonForce remarkable in the first place. They have pushed the envelope and the boundaries of power metal constantly, even if it wasn’t particularly popular. On Reaching Into Infinity, and Extreme Power Metal as well, they seemed to have slipped into a bit of a lull.
The bulk of the album’s tracks fit into every DragonForce stereotype, particularly “Cosmic Power of the Infinite Shred Machine”, which is at a raging fast speed, has a lengthy solo section, and clocks in around 6.5 minutes. The opening track “Highway to Oblivion” is so DragonForce that it would be at home right next to “Through The Fire And Flames”. Again, it’s not bad, it’s just that it’s a little too familiar. However, when a song is a little slower paced, it gives more room for melody and the catchiness of Marc Hudson’s vocals to shine through. I would say that “Strangers” is my favorite song off of the album strictly due to how catchy the chorus is.
There are a couple of tracks that stretch their imagination a little further than normal and contain a lot more of the traits of fantasy-based power metal. “The Last Dragonborn” is a Dio-flavored track, and “Remembrance Day” takes another leap by beginning with a bagpipe processional. There’s also a cover of “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion, which was cute, but any Stevie T on YouTube has probably already made a similar sounding cover. For me, these brief moments away from the common DragonForce formula didn’t quite hit the mark. They’re not bad songs, but I don’t think these are going go down in history as the band’s better songs. They’re certainly not going to be considered their most memorable.
Again, there’s absolutely something to be said for consistency, and DragonForce has been extremely consistent throughout their career. Extreme Power Metal isn’t a stinker, it’s just not particularly engaging. I find myself skipping most of the songs and going straight to “Strangers” when I give Extreme Power Metal a go. To put it succinctly, it’s an ok album. Check it out if you’re already a fan, but this won’t be the album to convert the non-believers.
Fan-filmed video footage of DRAGONFORCE's February 4 concert at TivoliVredenburg in Utrecht, Netherlands can be seen below. The show marked the band's second performance with new bassist and backing vocalist Alicia Vigil (VIGIL OF WAR), who joined DRAGONFORCE last month.
DRAGONFORCE guitarist Herman Li stated about the group's latest additon: "Alicia was recommended to me by a number of musician friends in L.A. She impressed me with her playing, her professionalism, and her ability to learn the DRAGONFORCE songs really quickly! I'm excited to have her playing on this tour and I think the fans will really like what she brings to the show."]
DRAGONFORCE is streaming its world tour live on twitch.tv/hermanli. Livestreams will include performances, backstage and special guest appearances.
Last August, DRAGONFORCE parted ways with longtime bassist Frédéric Leclercq. Playing bass for the group at some its recent shows was Damien Rainaud, who produced DRAGONFORCE's eighth full-length album, "Extreme Power Metal".
"Extreme Power Metal" came out in September. Li stated about the effort: "This album again combines the best of DRAGONFORCE in an even bigger, more epic way than we have ever done before."
DRAGONFORCE will embark on a U.S. headlining tour in March. Support on the trek will come from UNLEASH THE ARCHERS and VISIONS OF ATLANTIS. The tour will begin on March 5 in Phoenix, Arizona and end on March 21 in Brooklyn, New York.