Heavy Metal: Running Wild To Release EP In December

Three years after seventeenth album, Rapid Foray, pirate metallers Running Wild will issue their next release in the form of a new EP. Entitled Crossing the Blades, this four-track should tide fans over until the next full album comes out next summer.

01. Crossing The Blades
02. Stargazed
03. Strutter
04. Ride On The Wild Side

According to the band, the first track, ‘Crossing the Blades’, will be a harbinger for the Summer 2020 album; the song (although as a completely different version) will also be present on the new album.

Also included on the EP’s tracklist is ‘Stargazed’, which the band has played live at Wacken, as well as the KISS cover ‘Strutter’.

Crossing the Blades will be released on 6 December, which also falls on Saint Nicholas Day, via SPV/Steamhammer.

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DragonForce – Extreme Power Metal Review

Score8.5/10
GenrePower Metal
CountryEngland
Runtime52:51
Release Date27 September 2019
Record LabelMetal Blade

Between relentless speed, over-the-top solos, and enough positivity to make even a reggae guy sick, let me come clean and say that I’m a huge DragonForce fan. After all, ‘Through the Fire and the Flames’ was the very first power metal song I ever heard. These guys are single-handedly responsible for planting the seed of undying love of power metal in my soul eleven years ago, as they did for many others, and I still crank out most of their albums on a regular basis. My favourites are the four albums from the ZP era, and I like their 2017 release, Reaching into Infinity, almost as much. The Power Within and Maximum Overload, however, were really hit-and-miss for me, but there are a few killer tracks from both. Fortunately, Extreme Power Metal is a hit for me and, despite having a few imperfections, it’s their best album since Ultra Beatdown.

One thing EPM does better than, well, every album up to Reaching into Infinity is variety. It has your typical, fast-paced power metal bangers like ‘Troopers of the Stars’ and ‘Cosmic Power of the Infinite Shred’, as well as a surplus of more commercial, poppy songs. There are a few songs that aren’t driven solely by spine-splitting speed, such ‘Remembrance Day’ and the excellent cover of Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’, but the intense dragon energy is never lost. There are also a lot of instrumental breaks that utilize strings, folk instruments, and the usual videogame SFX that are so characteristic of DragonForce. These video game themes run strong, with most of the songs having retro synth (or outright 8-bit) intros. Unsurprisingly, ‘The Last Dragonborn’ is the most videogame-fueled of them all, albeit more in content and less in sound.

Alongside their trademark speed/positivity/insanely-long-solos combo, there’s also a dose of 80s pop and glam metal influence (which, in all honesty, is far less pronounced than I expected it to be, based on the album cover). There are a lot of cheesy synth tones that highlight the melodies as well as straight-up hair metal choruses, especially in ‘Heart Demolition’ and ‘Strangers’. However, where bands like Beast in Black are full-out 80s melodic metal bands, DragonForce maintains their familiar modern sound while keeping the 80s stuff just at arms length, using it as the spice rather than the steak.

While I really enjoy EPM as a whole, I do have two favourite tracks. I really like ‘Troopers of the Stars’, especially the shredding bass in the intro, which is really cool. However, as is my way, ‘Heart Demolition’ has the most cheesy synths, so it makes it as my favourite song. Just kidding. Kind of. Well, it’s got more going for it than just the synths. It’s just a coincidence, OK?

Many metalheads have said (and will continue to say until the end of fucking time), “So they can play fast. Big deal,” but, to me, that’s just a lazy criticism. After all, couldn’t you criticize any band for having a schtick? Or even, how stupid would it sound if I said, “So you can play aggressively. Big deal,” about metal in general? Well, yeah, that isn’t entirely wrong, and that is a main attribute, but there’s so much more to it than that. If you don’t like it, that’s fine, but I don’t need that negativity in my life. DragonForce have released yet another excellent album in Extreme Power Metal, and there’s way more to it than just speed.

*Also, let me just say that I love this music video. It looks like it was made for Newgrounds. Remember when that website was a thing? Me neither.*

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DragonForce – Extreme Power Metal Artwork Review

Out of my immense excitement upon first seeing it, I’ve decided to do something a bit different; I’ll review the artwork of an album. Why, you may ask? Because this just might be the single greatest image to ever grace the metal world.

Score10/10
Artist(Searching)

Even more than their first single, DragonForce’s Extreme Power Metal cover art has every bone in my body amped to the max for September, when the album finally comes out.

But, before I talk about what I like so much about it, let me first address something. Since DragonForce’s announcement, I’ve seen countless comments and posts from people saying shit like, “DragonForce is just a parody now,” and “This isn’t real DragonForce,” to which I call massive bullshit.

Before the genesis of the band, Sam Totman and Herman Li were in a band called Demoniac. It was a black/power metal band with lyrical themes that are, to say it conservatively, a little bit fucked. The band mostly existed for the purpose of creating shocking and ridiculous music, and, in that, they succeeded. The duo ditched the band in 99 to form DragonForce with the intent to make super-fast power metal the likes have never been seen.

Fast forward to 2006’s Inhuman Rampage, where DragonForce dialed everything their music was famous for in their first two albums way up. The relentless speed and heavy sound were pushed even further, and even their lyrics began to embody a bit more of a tongue-in-cheek power metal approach rather than a thoughtful lyric selection. This lyrical trend spiraled out of control in each consecutive album, with upbeat fantasy lyrics eventually being recycled as if being put into a blender and written down as they were poured out. Their latest album, Reaching into Infinity, embodies this perfectly, with most of its songs being almost-nonsensical (which doesn’t make the music any less serious, by the way).

So, as you can see, the ridiculousness portrayed by Extreme Power Metal‘s artwork is just DragonForce being DragonForce. It might seem like it’s been a slight slope downward into Jokesville since 2006, but let me also remind you that this video existed way back then, and it exceeds the fuckery that is EPM‘s cover:

Yeah. Remember this? This is more bizarre than anything they’ve done since, so fuck off with the “DragonForce used to be serious,” schtick, because that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Now, carrying on to the album artwork. Where do I even begin? Well, to start, I guess I should point out the obvious: the 80s aesthetic. This artwork perfectly embodies the 80s revival of the past five or so years and the whole TRON/Arcade/Cyberpunk thing really works for the band. Also, that huge explosion adds a ton of action and movement to the piece.

Seeing that flying laser car on the left, I instantly think of Knight Rider and Back to the Future. It’s such a silly touch to an already-silly picture, so bonus points there. Actually, now that I think of it, it also makes me think of that Scarface/GTA Vice City couch gag from The Simpsons.

It’s also really nice to actually have another dragon on a DragonForce cover (because Reaching into Infinity is the only other one to have a dragon, weirdly enough). And then there’s my favourite part, which is how god damn stupid Sam’s face looks.

Herman and Marc are running from the intense explosion of reality with their baddest and raddest faces on, meanwhile Sam is standing there looking like a reject lego piece. Simply wonderful.

In conclusion, this is both the cheesiest and best album cover I’ve ever seen in my entire life, ever. Not only does it capture the DragonForce essence, but it also captures my love of the 80s and the spirit of power metal itself. If this picture is any indication, Extreme Power Metal just might be DragonForce’s best since Valley of the Damned.

Extreme Power Metal comes out on 27 September. Don’t miss it!

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Iron Savior – Kill Or Get Killed Review

Score7/10
GenreHeavy/Power Metal
CountryGermany
Runtime53:56
Release Date15 Mar 2019
Record LabelAFM

Since their inception in the mid-90s, Iron Savior have been an iconic name in German power metal. With more than twenty years behind them and a new record about every two years, these guys are still going as strong as ever.

Kill or Get Killed is business as usual: cranked bass, hooky hooks, and gloriously-heavy guitars. With a method and style that have remained all but unchanged for almost their entire career, Iron Savior are great at doing what they know and executing it masterfully. The rhythm section is about as beefed up as Ronnie Coleman in his heyday (but has aged way fucking better) and the choruses retain their familiar, catchy melodies.

The band continues to play with the same vitality and vigour that it always has; there is no limit to the power behind Piet Sielck’s mountainous bellows, which, for a guy who’s half a decade from sixty, is quite the feat. Conversely, Joachim Küstner’s exquisite shredding has only grown finer with time. There are no real highlights on this record because most of the songs have the same formula and structure. Despite the blatant and intentional lack of variety, this metal is hard as Hell, which is all I really care about at the end of the day.

In the originality department, Kill or Get Killed gets a zero-and-a-half. However, nobody expects anything new from these guys. They have their shtick and it works really fucking well, so why bother trying to break new ground? It’s evident that these guys are in it for their undying love for metal and their passion is in the forefront of every song.

This album is great, plain and simple.

Iron Savior – Stand Up and Fight (AFM)

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