Reviews

DragonForce

Vijith Assar

Dear Herman Li, can you please grow a moustache? Love, PopMatters.

DragonForce

DragonForce

City: New York NY
Venue: Roseland Ballroom
Date: 2008-11-24

Before their recent show in New York, I was up to my elbows in DragonForce albums and hating every minute of it until I realized that the problem lay with my expectations, not with their material. Specifically, I was expecting it to be real. But what kind of Serious Artist gives The Art a name like Ultra Beatdown? What kind of nimrod expects to be taken seriously with a neon camouflage keytar? Could the electric fan positioned just so to blow guitarist Herman Li's hair back every time he stepped to the edge of the stage to play a guitar solo have been any more obvious? As the most outlandish example of everything-to-excess metal, DragonForce simply has to be intended as parody, in which case it's absolute genius; rarely does a lampoon simultaneously become the champion of that which it mocks. After this realization, I actually had the time of my life at the show, mostly because I spent the whole time giggling like a schoolgirl on Nitrous. Here, then, is a helpful tentative to-do list from a recently-converted now-adoring fan who can’t bear to see anything about these brilliant satirists taken seriously. Facial hair: Inconveniently placed hair is a hallmark of testosterone overproduction, and heavy metal would be nothing without hormonal malfunctions. This one is obvious, guys, and it's a travesty that the band is 66%-babyfaced. Luckily, making up for lost time will only require applying the band's existing manifesto ("Overdo everything," if I'm not mistaken), but since nu-metal ate the goatee sometime around 1998, you may have to get creative here. Fu Manchu? Civil war general? Even a substantial enough set of mutton chops would be sufficient. Additional drummers: Dave Mackintosh has already abandoned all semblance of phrasing and finesse in an apparent attempt to hit every drum on every beat -- makes perfect sense, since it's heavier that way, right? But with only the standard-issue allotment of human limbs, there's no way he'll ever be able to reach them all no matter how hard he practices. Why not take the logical leap into Allman Brothers territory and find him a friend? Just imagine how much more blasty those blastbeats could be. Downsizing the drum set is not a suitable alternative. Leather: To be fair, the point here is not to actually coat yourselves in the remains of an expired cow, but rather to build up the sort of intimidating outlandish visual presence that launched the careers of the Hell's Angels and Mario Lopez. Which is to say, anything that's black and socially awkward will do: pleather, vinyl, and even spandex are suitable options, though the details of execution are particularly important with the latter. Spikes: It goes without saying that said leather accoutrements should be festooned at every turn with all manner of chrome ornaments, but don't stop there. For the truly dedicated, the logical conclusion is implantation of menacing jewelry directly into the face; rhinoplasty is heavy metal's last frontier. Less-convenient bodily regions are optional but encouraged. Concept albums: The existing songs are very long and all sound alike, so all you have to do is drop terms like "narrative" and "song cycle" into every third interview or so and people will start to give you credit for large-scale albumcraft even if you never pass through basic songcraft along the way. What I'm trying to say is… everyone thinks you're doing this already. Dungeons, dragons, etc: Actually, let's expand on the above for a moment. Look, the band's name is DragonForce and you already play overblown epics composed solely of orcs-storming-castle riffs, so it's time to just give in all the way and indulge the repressed id that has been scrunched up inside a Rubbermaid bin in your mental attic ever since your homeroom teacher banned Magic: The Gathering cards in sixth grade. Just write songs that are explicitly about potions and paladins already, instead of cloaking your lyrics in generic catch-all pronouns that can be misconstrued as human. Where be the dragons? And where the wizards at? Bravo, boys, on having executed a prank of Herculean proportions on the metal world; you deserve to buy yourselves something pretty with the heaps of money you've made selling ridiculous music to teenagers who prefer plastic toy guitars to real ones. Now, all that remains is ensuring longevity, and though the jury is still out on whether Ozzy will be joining you, taking any combination of the above steps will ensure that everyone continues to file DragonForce next to Ween instead of Black Sabbath. Unless you're serious, that is, in which case God help us all.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

'World War 3 Illustrated #51: The World We Are Fighting For'

World War 3 Illustrated #51 displays an eclectic range of artists united in their call to save democracy from rising fascism.

Music

Tiphanie Doucet's "You and I" Is an Exercise in Pastoral Poignancy (premiere)

French singer-songwriter Tiphanie Doucet gives a glimpse of her upcoming EP, Painted Blue, via the sublimely sentimental ode, "You and I".

Music

PM Picks Playlist 3: WEIRDO, Psychobuildings, Lili Pistorius

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of WEIRDO, Brooklyn chillwavers Psychobuildings, the clever alt-pop of Lili Pistorius, visceral post-punk from Sapphire Blues, Team Solo's ska-pop confection, and dubby beats from Ink Project.

By the Book

The Story of Life in 10 1/2 Species (excerpt)

If an alien visitor were to collect ten souvenir life forms to represent life on earth, which would they be? This excerpt of Marianne Taylor's The Story of Life in 10 and a Half Species explores in text and photos the tiny but powerful earthling, the virus.

Marianne Taylor
Film

Exploitation Shenanigans 'Test Tube Babies' and 'Guilty Parents' Contend with the Aftermath

As with so many of these movies about daughters who go astray, Test Tube Babies blames the uptight mothers who never told them about S-E-X. Meanwhile, Guilty Parents exploits poor impulse control and chorus girls showing their underwear.

Music

Deftones Pull a Late-Career Rabbit Out of a Hat with 'Ohms'

Twenty years removed from Deftones' debut album, the iconic alt-metal outfit gel more than ever and discover their poise on Ohms.

Music

Arcade Fire's Will Butler Personalizes History on 'Generations'

Arcade Fire's Will Butler creates bouncy, infectious rhythms and covers them with socially responsible, cerebral lyrics about American life past and present on Generations.

Music

Thelonious Monk's Recently Unearthed 'Palo Alto' Is a Stellar Posthumous Live Set

With a backstory as exhilarating as the music itself, a Thelonious Monk concert recorded at a California high school in 1968 is a rare treat for jazz fans.

Music

Jonnine's 'Blue Hills' Is an Intimate Collection of Half-Awake Pop Songs

What sets experimental pop's Jonnine apart on Blue Hills is her attention to detail, her poetic lyricism, and the indelibly personal touch her sound bears.

Music

Renegade Connection's Gary Asquith Indulges in Creative Tension

From Renegade Soundwave to Renegade Connection, electronic legend Gary Asquith talks about how he continues to produce infectiously innovative music.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.

Books

Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.

Music

Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.

Film

Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.

Music

Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.