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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Valley of the Damned
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:£29.90+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on 28 January 2003
I'm left speechless.
Well, not quite. I've been listening to Heavy Metal since I was 4 years old, my sister gave me a Diamond Head LP and I started getting deeper and deeper into the hole. The first album I bought was a 7" 'Haunting The Chapel' by Slayer and since then I was converted. I am nearly 19 now, which means that I have been listening to Heavy Metal for nearly 15 years...
... And I have never heard anything like this, this album is beyond excellent. Think Helloween + Dream Theater x Yngwie Malmsteen - Hair Metal + About 10x Faster = Dragonforce. If this band keeps doing what they're doing, getting more airplay and getting more attention as a whole, they could be one of the greatest Heavy Metal bands of all time.
I first heard of them whilst I was searching through mp3.com for Blind Guardian songs, and it turns out that their song 'Valley Of The Damned' had been at the top of the Power Metal charts for just about a year. So, out of curiosity, I downloaded the song. I think the best thing about it was the fact that it was their demo, I wanted to hear a full-length album with better production... So here I am about one year later and it's finally here.
The guitars are diabolical in a good way, how they can play those harmonies are beyond me and I've been playing 5 hours everyday for the past 9 years. The drumming is amazing...That's all I can say really. The bass... In order to keep up with the rhythm and drumming, well, it has to be good. The vocals match perfectly. The lyrics are your typical Power Metal stuff (dragons, swords, battles etc) but that makes no difference to me because the album is purely and simply amazing.
Postive Things - Everything.
Negative Things - Nothing.
I know it's only January and the first month of the year, but I have already made this number 1 album of the year.
If you are any serious and decent Heavy Metal fan, you have got to get this!
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on 19 February 2004
An absolutely brilliant debut album. Great vocals and mind blowingly fast guitar and drum work combine to make an incredibly heavy yet still melodic album.
I do have a couple of complaints though, which is why I haven't given it 5 stars.
The first, Heart of the Dragon is soooooo incredibly cheesey.
Second of all, they need much more variety. It's a cliche but most of the songs really do sound the same. Fortunately, it is a damn good sound but nevertheless I would hope that on the next album they have a bit more variety.
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on 16 September 2003
The UK Power Metal scene has always been pretty poor when compared to mainland Europe, not only in quality, but also in quantity. Whilst DragonForce can only add one to the number of British bands playing this style of music, one listen to this, their first official release, will restore anyone's faith in the scene.
After a brief intro, the band plunges into the title track. Filled with catchy hooks, soaring vocals and superb drumming, this song will instantly become stuck in your head, only to leave when you listen to one of the other tracks. As soon as the song reaches the solos, your jaw will have hit the floor as you try to take in the sheer talent of guitarists Herman Li and Sam Totman. This formula is used to great effect on the all the other songs on the album. On one occasion, in "Disciples of Babylon", they even manage to fit an experimental interlude into the middle of the song, before continuing with the, you guessed it, catchy chorus.
It seems compulsory within the genre to put a ballad on your album, and the majority of these are usually too embarassing to listen to (see "Mother Gaia" on Stratovarius's 'Infinity album' as an example). Fortunately, "Starfire" is one of the best songs on the album, and the best Power Metal ballad that this reviewer has ever heard. Opening with a gorgeous piano intro, it progresses into an insanely catchy chorus and a sublime acoustic guitar solo. An excellent vocal performance from ZP Theart rounds the whole thing off. A real "lighters in the air" moment. The only below–par moment is the closing track "Heart of a Dragon". Whilst certainly not a bad song, the excessive cheesiness is likely to put a few listeners off, but get past that (which Rhapsody fans will find especially easy) and you have another top quality track.
I cannot emphasise how good this band actually are. The fact that this is their debut release and five of the songs are just re–recordings of ones featured on their demo just goes to show at what a high standard their songwriting and musicianship is. It is impossible to choose a standout track because every song is of the highest standard and completely memorable. DragonForce have created a masterpiece fit to go head to head with even the best of their European counterparts.
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on 5 November 2004
This album is absolutely mind-blowing. It's the debut album from UK Power-Metal band Dragonforce. Combining face-melting solos from guitarist Herman 'The Shred' Lee, gut-busting drumming, it merges to form a mind-blowing finished product. It's the sort of music you can picture listening to in a huge fan-filled stadium, lights flashing and you standing there with your mouth open gawping in amazement.
I do have one complaint though, the lyrics to the songs are a little cheesy, but you can barely hear the vocals (which are great if you pay attention) through the awesome guitar-playing and double-bass pedal of the drums.
I suggest you buy this album now, put it in your car CD-player, drive up and down your street and blast it so the whole neighborhood can hear, then buy it for themselves!
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on 17 February 2004
Power metal may not be the most popular genre in the UK but with bands like Power Quest and Dragonforce coming through it's only a matter of time before that changes.
Dragonforce have created a masterpiece of technical speedy power metal and every metal lover should own this. It's full of memorable songs, catchy choruses, awesome riffs, pounding drums and of course the all important guitar solos. ZP compliments the music with his incredible voice. As has been said in a previous review, this guy hits every note. I would place this at the more extreme end of the power metal scale. Going back to the guitar solos, Herman Li and Sam Totman are simply awesome and you just have to hear it to believe it. The keyboards feature prominently in places adding a touch of atmosphere but if there was one slight let down it's that the mixing levels aren't always perfect. Obviously it's not enough to detract from what is easily one of the best releases of 2003.
My standout tracks are opener Valley of the Damned, Black Winter Night, Evening Star and the ballad Starfire.
Dragonforce are truly one of the most talented bands around and having seen them live (and met them afterwards) I can say that they are a great honest bunch of guys who love their fans and deserve every success. I really can't reccomend this enough. You just have to check it out.
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on 23 September 2015
With the obvious talent and potential to become one of the greatest power metal bands of all time, the thing that makes DragonForce stand out the most is also the thing that annoys me about them. They’re too fast.

‘Valley of the Damned’ has a very promising start, with the title track producing some very nice riffs, accompanied by some incredibly catchy vocals, however, this is as good as it gets, as halfway through the song the band, in particular, guitarists Sam Totman and Herman Li, decide to disregard any logical tune and just shred away. It quickly becomes apparent that this is the formula for all of their songs.

With bands such as Dream Theater and Symphony X being top influences of mine, it’s clear that shredding isn’t a problem for me. What bothers me when DragonForce start wailing away, is that it’s so fast and flashy that there is no distinguishable melody. Every solo, and I mean EVERY solo, sounds exactly the same, and by that I mean a flurry of notes where the main focus is flashy acrobatics over actual substance. As a result, it's hard to really care once they get started.

It’s a shame, because this band has a lot of potential, and in the very few cases when they do slow down their music is awesome. Songs like ‘Valley of the Damned’ and ‘Disciples of Babylon’ have some really kickass moments and memoable vocal melodies, but then descend into the standard DragonForce routine of ruining a perfectly good song with stupidly fast solos that lack any sense of musicality.

As a fan of shred guitar playing, it saddens me to say this, but in the case with this band, ‘speed kills’.
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on 9 March 2003
This album is fantastic! If you are into Power Metal, you MUST own this CD!
The guitar work is great, with catchy, technical and melodic solos which take up more than a minute in each song. Their long instrumental interludes break them apart from the usual power metal bands. There is also plenty of guitar harmony throughout the album.
The drumming is powerful, very fast, and extremely tight! The keyboards really richen the experience. Their vocalist has excellent range and hits every note on the spot.
My only complaint would be that in some songs, the vocals should have been louder in the mix.
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on 11 February 2003
This debut album is certainly something to be exited about. It is hard to classify it as an specific type of metal. It contains elements from the melodic, speed and power metal genres. All 8 songs are beautifully structured. The solos are simply amazing and the double-bass kicks ass! The slow grand-piano parts that crop up at times is really nice. This album is definately worth your money! This is the best album in my metal collection of over 100 cds and I have 2 in case something happens to one :P
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on 23 August 2006
On balance I think I pretty much agree with the various other reviews listed to-date. Yes, the lyrics are melodramatic Sword & Sorcery; and yes, the songs tend to sound similar in many ways (particularly if, as in the title song, the sound balance is poor and the singing seems to come from the bathroom). However, put this in your car CD-player and turn it up to a decent volume and your journey is that much more enjoyable. The musicianship is impressive, the vocals smooth and tuneful, and there are plenty of great melodies weaving through the frantic rhythms. How the guitarists keep up with the drummer I will never know! And that is really my only real 'criticism'. My own personal opinion is that Dragonforce do not need to play their music at such a break-neck pace; the musical calibre of the group is high enough that such speed is unnecessary. To paraphase the chocolate advert..."Take it easy boys, with Cadbury's Caramel". Oh, Dragonforce are a Speed Metal group, and it's supposed to be played that way? Duh! :o)

If you like your rock melodramtic, melodic, anthemic and over the top - buy this album. Better still, buy "Sonic Firestorm" too. I can't comment on "Inhuman Rampage" because it's still in the post. Great fun, even for a sedate Prog-lover :o)
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on 26 January 2005
How would I describe Dragonforce? Well, take the lyrical depth and singing of Iron Maiden...speed it up (a lot)...and throw it on top of some nice classic Sepultura and you're just about there. Dragonforce are a fantastically unique band with a nice variation to their powerful sound.
Up until today I had never heard of them, but I was shopping and the CD was playing in the store. Asked what band it was an immediatey bought this album and it's excellent. While not normally a fan of power metal I enjoyed this because it seems to fuse a lot of ideas together and comes up with a truly fantastic sound. One minute I can sit and enjoy the melody of the song and the next I was headbanging away.
Dragonforce is the type of band you should listen to while climbing a mountain or building a pyramid. It's fast, loud and almost feel-good in a way. The lyrics (unlike say, Sepultura) don't bring out aggression but instead a desire to keep going and inspire. While not a flawless album I still have to give it 5 stars. It's a diamond in the granite of underrated bands. Buy it.
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