I'm kinda confused after watching this gig from the UK-based 'extreme power metallers'; on the one hand, playing the way they do with such intensity and precision really takes some doing but on the other, it's all a bit one-dimensional, if you know one song you know the set. On top of that, they actually acknowledge it - as demonstrated by guitarist/songwriter/stage clown Sam Totman, when telling the audience 'they (the songs) all sound the same anyway!' He and fellow speed-shredder Herman Li were ribbing one another all night, when not swapping hyperspeed lead solos they were taking the mick out of one another between songs!
The impression that they leave me with is that of extremely talented musicians 'slumming it' playing Power Metal; there is no question that these two can really play (especially Li, without doubt the star of the band even over vocalist ZP Theart) but that they just regard a Dragonforce gig as a platform to show off. It's kinda like when an old-school Metal band lets the guitarist take a solo while the rest of the band go off stage, except they just solo all night while the rest of the band stay on stage and bash away behind them! They are surely capable of more than whammy bar dive-bombing and sweep-picking - it's just that this is all we are treated to.
Totman is perceived as the clown, he often takes swigs from beer cans (left on the mike stands for him to grasp at various points) or pulls faces, and jumps about while Li takes the solo, but is always in place to take his own turn when it comes. They'd like the crowd to think they're just goofing around, but you cannot play that way without a lot of practice. Their drummer (Dave Mackintosh) left me gaping open-mouthed; song after song it was badda-badda-bam-bam-bam - not just fast playing but hard fast playing! How he kept that up for the entire set is beyond my comprehension, how he does that night after night especially so! If you can imagine Usain Bolt running the way he does for 100 metres, but being able to keep that going for 10000 metres instead, that's how hard I imagine that to be! Not forgetting bassist Frédéric Leclercq and keyboard player Vadim Pruzhanov, both were up at the front frequently alongside the guitarists and the singer, all competing for the spotlight and the crowd.
Maybe that's their appeal, it is not so much a live gig as a race to see who can be the fastest!
They are incredible players live, but they have little concept of 'light and shade'. It's 'light and even more light' with these fellas! Consequently one song seemed to run into another, when Totman mockingly threatened that the band would not be playing 'Through The Fire and Flames' (their best-known song) it hardly mattered. Almost all their songs are like that, it was a genuine shock to the system when they slowed it down in the fourth song (briefly!) So, even if they had not played it (of course they did - in the encore when joined by what looked like the support band and all their crew) a casual observer wouldn't have noticed and probably thought that they had!
The guitars were dominating the sound to the point where I couldn't always hear vocalist ZP Theart properly, he is a good singer and would probably flourish in another band where he could express himself. As it is, he's totally overshadowed by the Li/Totman antics.
Consqeuently then, I'm not sure whether I enjoyed the gig or not - they strike me as just playing like that 'for the lulz' (to use awful internet terminology). You can't see how they would evolve from this style, they're painted into a corner. And they're far too talented to stay in the corner forever.
I only caught the end of support Sabaton; the Swedish metallers went down great with the early attendees although what I heard sounded very much like Priest/Maiden influenced Metal. I'd probably give them another go if they're around again though, since two songs isn't really enough to assess them with. However, hearing just one Dragonforce number will tell you all what they're about!