Since hair metal is pretty much a thing of the past (rock revivals of Poison, Mötley Crüe and Guns 'N Roses don't count), it's a good thing DragonForce – power metal at its most extreme – is around to keep me entertained. They've got the hair and the tongue-in-cheek lyrics reminiscent of those glam days, while their speed alone recalls old-school metal favorites such as Slayer and Megadeth.
DragonForce, which formed in London, England in 1999, goes from zero to 200 mph in a matter of seconds, rightfully earning them the title of having some of the fastest fingers in the biz – thanks in part to the twin guitar attack of Herman Li and Sam Touman.
Having spent the summer sharing the stage with some of music's most abrasive acts on Ozzfest, DragonForce offered a melodic alternative and proved to be one of this year's bands to watch.
The group's performance at the Wiltern, however, wasn't exactly the most stellar representation of what's been wowing audiences stateside.
As frontman ZP Theart introduced the band's performance as the “first rehearsal” for its North America headlining tour, it certainly showed.
Technical difficulties ensued right from the get-go, mostly dealing with sound – it was a good three songs before Theart's lyrics could be made out – and though its members display an incredible amount of prowess, at times DragonForce came across as sloppy. During “Revolution Deathsquad,” a tune the band claimed to have never played live, they stopped mid-song and started over.
This is not to say that the U.K imports weren't their over-the-top selves though.
Signs outside the Wiltern that read “For your safety, no swords or shields will be allowed at tonight's performance” were a good inclination as to what to expect from the band: a performance that warranted both cheers and laughter.
DragonForce knows how to put on a show. Its members make full use of the stage (trampolines certainly help getting around) and know how to work a crowd. They may be goofy and a bit absurd at times, but they're having fun with it, and it shows.Still, it wasn't until about halfway through the 90-minute set, when the sound problems began to level out, that its true potential began to push full speed ahead. It possesses the skill and the act to make it work, but clearly, the band needs to iron out a few kinks before everything falls into place