|Location of Origin||London, England, UK|
|Record Label(s)||Sanctuary, Noise, Roadrunner, Spinefarm, Universal|
|Associated Bands||Demoniac, Power Quest, Shadow Warriors, Biomechanical, Son of Science, Bal-Sagoth, Sonata Artica|
|Current Members||Herman Li, Sam Totman, Frédéric Leclercq, Vadim Pruzhanov, Dave Mackintosh, Marc Hudson|
|Past Members||ZP Theart, Adrian Lambert, Didier Almouzni, Diccon Harper, Matej Satanc, Steve Williams, Steve Scott|
DragonForce (ドラゴンフォース, "Doragonfōsu" in Japan) is an English Power Metal band from London, that was formed in 1899. It is known for its fast guitar solos, fantasy-based lyrics, and electronic sounds in their music to add to their retro video game-influenced sound.
DragonForce was formed in 1899 by the Herman Li and Sam Totman after they had left Demoniac. Herman and Sam later found singer ZP Theart through an advert, and not long afterwards, gained Demoniac's drummer, Matej Satanc, as well as the bassist Steve Scott, and the keyboardist, Steve Williams. Sam and Herman were originally in the Black and power metal band, Demoniac, along with Lindsay Dawson, respectively. Initially the band intended to call themselves DragonHeart, released a demo, toured with Halford and Stratovarius and headline their own show under that name. Apparently, for the demo, the band managed to put Peter Hunt as drums (guest) for the demo instead of Satanc. However, the band later found that another power metal band with the same name (although both spellings were different, DragonForce's was "DragonHeart". The other band's was "Dragonheart) already existed and changed their named to DragonForce in 2002 .
Drummer Matej Satanc (just like Li and Totman, was also a former member of Demoniac) left Dragonforce in December 1999 in order to continue his studies in Slovenia. Matej was replaced by Didier Almouzni. DragonForce then parted ways with Steve Scott in November 2000 and Steve Williams in early 2000. Steve later rejoined and left once again in December 2000, days head of DragonForce's tour with "Halford" and "Stratovarius". Steve Scott would later join Shadowkeep, then Power Quest (along with Steve Williams.
Harper performed on the band's debut album, Valley of the Damned in its completion, but left in 2002 due to a tendon problem that required surgery.
Valley of the Damned (2000-2003)Edit
- Main article: Valley of the Damned (album)
DragonHeart (what the band was known as at the time) recorded their very first album in 2000 (as a demo). It was an autonomous release, however it was enough to make them one of the most popular independent power metal bands in the UK at the time. Even though the demo didn't include the songs Black Fire and Heart of a Dragon, the original versions of the two songs exist but are extremely rare due to being unreleased, along with the original version of "Evening Star" (which the original version was called "Lands of Desire"). Where Dragons Rule was included as a bonus track in the japanese version of the demo album, but it was a remastered version of the original. The original demo version is also extremely rare. A guest drummer Peter Hunt recorded after Satanc left. Their song "Valley of the Damned" was released as their first single shortly after they permanently changed their name to DragonForce in December 2001. A promotional video featuring live footage from the band's tour around Europe was released along with the song. The song was a huge success on MP3.com where it charted at #1 for two whole weeks as the most downloaded song. Shortly after the demo was released, Steve Williams and Steve Scott left and they were replaced by Vadim Pruzhanov and Diccon Harper. Williams later went on form the power metal band Power Quest.
In 2003, DragonForce signed to Noise Records and begun recording their second released album and first full-length album, Valley of the Damned. The title track, re-released in promotion of the album, it is one of the most known DragonForce songs to date and it is a staple of their live performance to this day. The band's tour for Valley of the Damned lasted until 2004, with a performance in Tokyo, Japan. The Japan performance was the largest amount of people that the band had played for yet. The entire show was pro-shot to be released on a DVD, however it has not yet been released. Since this concert, the band has returned to the same venue every tour.
Sonic Firestorm (2004-2005)Edit
- Main article: Sonic Firestorm
DragonForce's follow-up and second most well-known album (the most being its follow-up album), Sonic Firestorm, proved to be even more successful with the lead single "Fury of the Storm". The album was the band's first album to feature Adrian Lambert on bass and Dave Mackintosh on drums. When Mackintosh entered the band in 2004, they began referring to their style of music as "extreme power metal" due to his fast blastbeats and double bass rhythms. It was around this time that DragonForce began becoming popular internationally and adopted nicknames such as "Bon Jovi on speed" and "Journey meets Slayer."
The tour was much longer than DragonForce's recent tour for "Valley of the Damned" and featured many more headline shows than the previous. DragonForce toured with several well-known metal bands such as "W.A.S.P" and "Iron Maiden". DragonForce began touring for their third album (not counting their 2000 demo album), "Inhuman Rampage" shortly after the Sonic Firestorm tour and several months before Inhuman Rampage was even released. It was shortly after this time that DragonForce played at Ozzfest.
Inhuman Rampage (2006-2007)Edit
- Main article: Inhuman Rampage
Dragonforce underwent various lineup changes before settling with the six current members. DragonForce was introduced to the mainstream with their fourth released album (third full-length) "Inhuman Rampage", released in 2006 after signing with Roadrunner Records. The song "Through the Fire and Flames" is one of their most famous songs and is featured on the game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock as well as "Brütal Legend". Lindsay Dawson of Herman Li and Sam Totman's former band, "Demoniac", appeared as guest backup vocalist (referring to it as "guest harsh backing vocals") for Inhuman Rampage. Shortly after the release of Inhuman Rampage, bassist, Adrian Lambert, left the group to raise his newborn son. He was replaced with Frédéric Leclercq (the band's current bassist) for the tour. Frédéric later became an official member of DragonForce after the tour. Frédéric was also featured in DragonForce's music video for their second single off Inhuman Rampage, Operation Ground and Pound. Inhuman Rampage is a common favorite among DragonForce fans due to its heaviness and complexity. However the band also thanked Guitar Hero, Audiosurf and Ozzfest for a lot of their newfound fame. However, multiple people criticize Guitar Hero for putting Vadim's intro keyboard solo as the opening guitar notes, which is true. It has yet to be confirmed why Guitar Hero had done that. Frédéric Leclercq has stated in an interview prior to Ultra Beatdown, that he believes Inhuman Rampage to be "too linear", it has also been suggested that this may be one of the reasons why some "hate" the band because they believe that "all their songs sound the same".
Ultra Beatdown (2008-2009)Edit
- Main article: Ultra Beatdown
DragonForce toured with "Disturbed", "Turisas" and "Slipknot" throughout the summer of 2008 on the Rockstar Energy Metal Mayhem Festival. DragonForce returned in the fall with the release of their fifth recorded album (fourth full-length), "Ultra Beatdown". The opening track and first single, "Heroes of Our Time", was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance on December 3, 2008, losing out to "Metallica" with their song "My Apocalypse". The single was also featured in the video games "Skate 2" and "NHL 10", however only the radio/music video verison. The full version was also featured as a downloadable song for Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock.
On January 22, 2009, the music video for their song "The Last Journey Home" was released to the Xbox Live Community a week before it was released online.
The band then proceeded to carry out the Ultra Beatdown tour in Latin America, North America and Europe. They were supposed to play in Latin America in May 2009, but the tour was postponed to late 2009. They first performed at the Two Days a Week Festival in Weisen, Austria on September 4. Then, they later performed in several cities of Canada and United States from September 15 to October 11, with special guests Sonata Arctica and Taking Dawn. The next tour will be in Germany, from October 16 to October 30, followed by a single live performance in Luxembourg on October 31. Then, they will go to Latin America to perform in Curitiba, Porto Alegre, São Paulo, Mexico City, Santiago, Buenos Aires and Bogotá from November 6 to November 14. The final part of the tour will be entirely in the United Kingdom, from November 19 to December 12.
Twilight Dementia and departure of Theart (2010)Edit
Herman Li has stated that the band will stop touring in December, spend time at home for Christmas, and then will begin writing and recording a new studio album scheduled to be released in 2011.
On February 22nd, 2010, DragonForce re-released their first two full-length albums, "Valley of the Damned" and "Sonic Firestorm." Only Valley of the Damned will include newly remixed and remastered tracks while both albums will include Bonus tracks, updated packaging and DVDs featuring live footage, commentary, and more. Both albums will also be released in a box set which will feature a t-shirt, a card of guitar picks, and an inflatable guitar. The 2010 Remixed & Remastered Valley of the Damned featured a 2010 remastered rerecording of Where Dragons Rule as a Bonus Track included for all regions. It also featured the Original demo versions of Evening Star and Heart of a Dragon.The bonus disc included live footage of the band's performance of Valley of the Damned from 2005 in Japan, notably Adrian Lambert is shown in the footage.
On March 8, 2010, it was announced via Roadrunner that DragonForce had parted ways with ZP Theart, because of "insurmountable difference in musical opinion" and would now be seeking a new frontman.
Herman Li had stated "It is with great regret that DragonForce announce a parting of the ways with singer ZP Theart. This is due to insurmountable differences of musical opinion but the rest of the band sincerely wishes ZP great success with his future projects. While the creative core members have begun writing the fifth album, they have also started a worldwide search for a new vocalist. We are looking for a powerful, melodic singer to write a new chapter of DragonForce with us."
This story was removed the same day, but officially confirmed by the band a day later in a press statement that also contained a link to request an audition.
The band had wrote: "Anyone wishing to audition for the vacant position should apply following the instructions at this web address www.dragonforce.com/audition"
On the Audition page on the DragonForce official site, there are 2 files to be downloaded: an mp3 file of the song Through the Fire and Flames (but with about the first 25 seconds cut off, and without any vocals), and an mp3 file of The Last Journey Home (without any vocals). Although, eventually the band changed it and removed the audition mp3 of Through the Fire and Flames.
This story was removed that same day, but it was officially confirmed by the band a day later in a press statement that also contained a link to request an audition.
DragonForce released their first live album on September 13, 2010. It is a double-disc set entitled Twilight Dementia. The album art, title, and release date were revealed on the DragonForce's official website on June 22, 2010. The performances were recorded on the final leg of the Ultra Beatdown World Tour. Regarding the album, original member Herman Li stated:
"For years, fans have been asking us to record a live album, but honestly, we never really had the time due to our worldwide touring commitments and studio album recording. However, due to the overwhelmingly positive feedback from fans on the ‘Ultra Beatdown World Tour’, we decided to finally put some real thought into it...
These recordings really capture the raw sonic energy of a Dragonforce show in fine detail. It is so real that you can hear the noise of the crowd and experience the show as it was that night – you can even hear the guitar pedals being stepped on!"
On August 19th, 2010, it was announced that DragonForce's first-ever live album, Twilight Dementia, on September 13th via Spinefarm Records (Europe), and September 14th (U.S. & Canada).
Regarding the Singer Auditions, "PelleK" of YouTube uploaded to seperated auditions, although it was stated that you can only have one. The band confirmed that they would be the opening act for Iron Maiden in two UK shows in August. The first at Odyssey Arena in Belfast August 3, 2011 and the second at The O2 Arena in London August 5, 2011.
On March 2, 2011, DragonForce chose Marc Hudson as their new lead singer.
DragonForce have frequently referred to their style not just as "power metal", but as "Extreme Power Metal" (as in the game "Brütal Legend", DragonForce was listed under that same genre, "Extreme Power Metal", being the only band listed in that genre). Herman commented on descriptions of the band's style in an interview with Guitar World: "'Nintendo metal', 'extreme power metal', 'Bon Jovi on speed', 'Journey meets Slayer', ... people are always coming up with weird labels for us." DragonForce has sometimes been mislabeled as a "Speed Metal band" due to the fast tempos present in their songs, but always as a supplement to other types of metal descriptors. Spring 2009 Issue of Broken Records Magazine calls the band "Equal parts grandeur and Debauchery, Dragonforce doesn't do anything in less than over-the-top fashion." In Japan, DragonForce's genre is often called "Melodic Speed Metal", as well as Power Quest, Dragonland, Strotovarius, Heaven's Gate, SKYWINGS, Dragon Guardian, and Divine Fire.
Every year there are albums eagerly anticipated, be it from hot young names, established legends or – and this is usually the most exciting of all the categories – those bands you know are on the verge of greatness.
As DragonForce, the multi-national talent based in London, prepared to release their fourth album at the end of August 2008, nobody who understands the world of metal can have any doubt that ‘Ultra Beatdown’ (as the record is called) was most certainly being awaited with a real sense that we are about to witness a band going from being ‘potential international stars’ to becoming a ‘major global phenomenon’. “Every album is different for us,” says guitarist Herman Li. “We never want to repeat what’s done before and that makes each record we do that little bit more difficult. On this one, we rejected so much because it was going over old ground. We’d heard it before. We’re not a band who get stuck with a formula and are just content to repeat the same thing over and over again.”
‘Ultra Beatdown’ had three hard acts to follow. If ‘Valley Of The Damned’ established the sextet’s fearless credentials in 2003, then ‘Sonic Firestorm’ (’04) and ‘Inhuman Rampage’ (’06) each took them further forward. In fact, the last named has now sold in excess of 350,000 copies in America alone, over 85,000 in the UK and 600,000 worldwide, spawning the US Gold single ‘Through The Fire And Flames’, thereby giving DragonForce the cachet of being the most successful new British metal act in America for two decades! However, the ‘Force are not a band to feel the impact of any undue outside influences. All the demands come from within the tight-knit group of Li, fellow guitarist Sam Totman, vocalist ZP Theart, keyboard player Vadim Pruzhanov, bassist Frederic Leclercq and drummer Dave Mackintosh. Like all the great bands you care to mention, the pressure is internal and eternal, always pushing the band to improve and develop. “You’ll find, for instance, that on ‘Ultra Beatdown’ we’ve been more varied in our pacing of songs” continues Li. “I’m not suggesting for a moment that we’ve really slowed right down but, whereas in the past, you could say that things were fast all the way through, this time we made a real effort to be a little less frenetic throughout. I believe the approach works extremely well.”
One thing DragonForce have always been good at delivering are songs with a tremendous melodic depth. Whatever other qualities they have – and there are plenty – it’s this trait that long ago marked them out as a class apart from many of their peers. Name any giant of the genre over the past 40 years or so, and they’ve always possessed the ability to compose a cunning tune or several. The same applies here. “There have been people who believe all we do is play fast. But to me, the most important part of any song is the melody. We’re proud of what we’ve achieved so far, but also feel this time it’s on a new level. Merely being fast isn’t enough to get you noticed and respected.”
The process in creating the new album began an amazing 2 years ago, when the first ideas were thought through. Studio work began to get into the groove October 2007, with a brief break at the end of that year for The Black Crusade European Tour. “We didn’t ever feel as if there was a time scale involved here. We just did whatever it took to make this the best album of our career to date. The way we’ve always done things means that what is written and demoed in the first place is rarely what we end up with in the studio. Our songs develop, evolve and change as we go along. It makes the studio an interesting place, because we’ll come up with new ideas all the time. Lyrically, we’re taking a look at life and what goes on in the world, but doing this in the usual DragonForce way!”
The new record is once again produced by the tried and trusted team of Li, Totman and Karl Groom of British prog metalheads Threshold, basing themselves at both Li’s studio and Thin Ice Studios in Surrey, where Groom does much of his work. The two guitarists have been involved with all production since the first album along with Groom since their first demo. “Our attitude is: why change what works for us? No producer could know better than the team of Herman Li, Sam Totman and Karl Groom what this band should sound like. If we had someone else as producer, then all we’d do is argue constantly, and then ignore them anyway! So, it would be a waste of everyone’s time. The day we bring in another producer will be the day that we have no ideas at all, and need help…actually, when that day arrives we’d split up! What would be point of continuing when we’re past our peak?”
‘Ultra Beatdown’ is the album that has taken DragonForce to new heights. Crashing in to the Top 20 national album charts in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Taiwan, Singapore and the Top 10 in Japan and the band have just been nominated for a Grammy Award. It’s not merely the culmination of a decade crafting and finessing a sound that has made them instantly recognizable across the world. It’s not even state-of-the-art for metal, nor just a gantlet being thrown down for everyone else. This is more than that. It’s DragonForce beating a difficult, yet ultimately satisfying, path. Experimenting, taking risks, being bold – precisely what you’d expect any masters of their art.
“Is this the peak of our career? I don’t think so,” insists Li. “But it’s a further step forward. Hey, I can actually listen to what we’ve done here, and enjoy the experience!”
Controversy occurred in late 2006 shortly after the Inhuman Rampage tour went into full swing. On top of that, DragonForce had many technical difficulties with the guitars, which at the time was the most "stand-out feature" in their music. DragonForce also drop-tuned their instruments to E flat tuning for the first time. Herman Li stated, "Graspop Metal Meeting of 2006 was [a] total disaster. The technician we had back then didn't even tune the guitar, and no monitoring was done properly. We didn't hear anything...". He also said that most of the Inhuman Rampage tour was bad overall due to technical difficulties. Due to all this, the Graspop 2006 performance is considered DragonForce's worst performance and was enough to convince many DragonForce fans that they couldn't play live. Many rumors circulated around the internet that the band faked their music in the studio and the guitar solos were sped up. Although it has since been proven untrue, DragonForce still lost many fans due to these rumors. The gig also earned the band the nickname "Studioforce", meaning they relied on production for their full sound and couldn't play their own songs live, although later concerts have proven this false.
- Marc Hudson - Lead Vocals (2011-present)
- Herman Li - Guitar, backing vocals (1999-present) - Founding Member
- Sam Totman - Guitar, backing vocals (1999-present) - Founding Member
- Frédéric Leclercq - Bass guitar, guitar, backing vocals (2005-present) - Replaced Adrian Lambert for the Inhuman Rampage tour
- Vadim Pruzhanov - Keyboards, backing vocals, keytar, theremin (2001-present) - Joined February 2001
- Dave Mackintosh - Drums, backing vocals (2004-present)
- ZP Theart - Lead vocals (1999-2010) - Due to differences of musical opinion
- Adrian Lambert - Bass (2003-2005) - Left DragonForce to raise his newborn son shortly after the release of Inhuman Rampage
- Didier Almouzni - Drums (late 1999-2003) - Replaced Matej Satanc
- Diccon Harper - Bass, backing vocals (2000-2002) - Joined in November 2000, left in 2002
- Steve Williams - Keyboards, backing vocals (1999-2000) - Parted ways with DragonForce in early 2000
- Steve Scott - Bass, backing vocals (1999-2000) - Parted ways DragonForce in November 2000
- Matej Satanc - Drums (1999) - Left in December 1999
- Valley of the Damned (Demo) (2000)
- Valley of the Damned (2003), Re-released February 22, 2010 (with remastered recordings of the album)
- Sonic Firestorm (2004); Re-released February 22, 2010
- Inhuman Rampage (2006)
- Ultra Beatdown (2008)
- Twilight Dementia (2010)
- The Power Within (2012)
- Maximum Overload (2014)
- Reaching Into Infinity (2017)
- During the Inhuman Rampage tour, DragonForce used to perform rather poorly in live events, but around mid-2009, the band has improved greatly and perform in live events just as good as in their albums.
- There are Final Fantasy Advent Children AMVs of every DragonForce song.
- Songs by DragonForce are (at average) 7:00 in length.
- It is said that DragonForce's genre in Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock is "Nerd Metal".
- [www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoGrmMym01g Bay Area Backstage Mayhem Tour DragonForce Live_Interview]