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Review: DragonForce - Valley of the Damned
Valley of the Damned

Label: Noise Records
Year released: 2002
Duration: 51:48
Tracks: 9
Genre: Power Metal

Rating: 4/5

Review online: May 29, 2003
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers Rating
Valley of the Damned

Rated 3.59/5 (71.72%) (29 Votes)

After ruling the metal charts forever and a day, we finally get the proper debut from this British power metal band. The question is: does it live up to the buzz? After having heard the mp3 tracks, and now this album, I have to say it does better than that.

As should be obvious from the name, Dragonforce (Formerly DragonHeart) are a dyed-in-the-wool power/speed band with all the usual stuff that implies. They have a vocalist with a clear, high range; two superb guitarists; a keyboard player; and a rhythm section addicted to speed speed speed. In fact, I would have to say that their drummer is one of the biggest double-bass abusers I have ever heard. As a unit, the band is very tight, and that’s a good thing, because they sometimes play so fast they sound like they’re going to fall all over themselves. They slow down a little here and there (notably on the ballad "Starfire") but mostly this is all fast as hell.

Now this is power metal, so the vocal melodies are very catchy, and also happy. The aforementioned "Starfire" is by far the sappiest, sounding like a tune Warrant might have put together, except the lyrics are still power-metal-dragon-fantasy stuff, a weird combination. It’s a good song, but it doesn’t really fit in with the rest. "Black Fire" is the best cut here, followed by "Evening Star" and the title track. There is a certain similarity between the songs in the riffs and the meter of the choruses especially, and Dragonforce are going to have to come up with some new ideas if they want any longevity. The first track, by the way, is an ‘instrumental’ so short it just took you longer to read this sentence than it would to listen to it. What the fuck?

The CD cover is very cheesy, as are the lyrics, but for Power fans, putting up with cheese is just part of the deal. Production is first-rate, and if you have only heard the demo versions then give the band another listen, as the professional production has really punched things up a notch. If you think Rhapsody are gay, you will hate this. But if you are a power metal fan, this is a sure thing. Fast, catchy, happy and cheesy, "Valley of the Damned" pretty much has it all.

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