The Usain Bolt of metal have strapped on the spikes, sprinted through more than 65 minutes of rapid-fire riffage and broken the tape in world record time – but does Reaching Into Infinity guarantee gold for self-appointed speed kings Dragonforce?
Faster, louder and, frankly, more ludicrous than ever, there’s no doubt Herman Li and Sam Totman are in no mood to take their foot off the pedal as they close in on 2019’s 20th anniversary. Unlike Bolt there are no plans for retirement – rather there’s an almost blind ambition to push the boundaries further than could be reasonably expected of any rock band. And it’s all getting a little bit out of hand.
It seems anathema to describe Dragonforce as dull. What could possibly be dreary about metal played at such pace that more than an hour of full throttle metal appears to fly by in the blink of an eye? How can the ever-reliable Li/Totman axis ever come across as anything less than exceptionally exciting?
This is how.
Somehow Reaching Into Infinity goes too far. It’s just too much – even by Dragonforce standards. Eleven minute-plus epic The Edge Of The World is bookended by two brilliantly atmospheric passages in the style of classic Maiden and yet too much of the meat in this power metal sandwich lacks focus and loses impact. The electro pop intro. to Judgement Day could whip Ibiza’s clubbers into a glow stick fuelled frenzy but even a reference to retro 80s favourite Masters Of The Universe can’t save another meandering riffathon from drifting towards oblivion.
There was a time when Dragonforce screamed different. Frontman Marc Hudson still screams but now there’s only indifference. A rare wrong turn or the onset of a terminal decline? Only time will tell.