09/25/06 - DragonForce, All That Remains, Horse The Band @ Le Medley, Montreal
Are the internationally based and now Ozzfest graduated DragonForce [www.dragonforce.com] ready to claim victory of the entire metal race? Not just yet, but for the 2002-born speed/power metal machine, the top of the world is approaching fast enough to validate them as a phenomenon unto themselves. Yes they borrow generously from the clichÃ©d archives of power metal, classic rock, and thrash, but as their new label Roadrunner is opening new coffers to accommodate all the cash DragonForce are raking in for them with their third album Inhuman Rampage, throngs of fans newly consider the band to be the answer to their metal prayers. And for the second time in the last six months, Montreal fans had their prayers answered for an hour and a half, over and over, in similar fashion to guitarist Herman Liâ€™s hilarious, never-ending solo marathons. The nearly sold-out audience was among the youngest to be seen at a BCI [www.braveconcerts.com] show, remaining unchanged from DragonForceâ€™s first visit months ago. They moshed in friendly fashion along to Valley of the Damned classics Invocation of Apocalyptic Evil, the title track, and Revelations, but it was their more recent material that really incited fist-pumping aplenty. Their 2004 breakthrough Sonic Firestorm was played in its near entirety, with My Spirit Will Go On, Fury of the Storm, and Scorpions-esque ballad Dawn Over A New World among the biggest emotion rousers. Their newest, Inhuman Rampage, was equally cited for setlist material and not surprisingly ended up being the most well-known material, creating an almost uniform tornado of nostalgic yet youthful emotion, featuring both testosterone and estrogen hormonal energy. DragonForce will be headlining the Bell Center in less than five years, mark my words. As before, two cutting edge (by some standards) openers were billed to satisfy an audience clearly schooled on traditional metal yet also great appreciators of modern styling. The first, Los Angelesâ€™s Horse The Band [www.horsetheband.com], arrived hot on the heels of their sophomore album Pizzaâ€™s release. Surprisingly NOT booed unlike Protest The Hero last time, the eclectic, self-described â€œemo death metalâ€ (quite far from it, really) brought some nineties-style, amped metalcore in the vein of 7 Angels 7 Plagues or Shai Hulud flavoured with real emo vocals and A Flock Of Seagulls-type keyboard running through the entire assembly. A few tracks in their short set came from their 2005 debut MECHANICALHAND, which featured more rabid keys reminiscent of Nintendo video games, sharing with DragonForceâ€™s an emphasis on nerdy warp-speed melodies. Very young and idealistic, they surprisingly arrived to the Montreal date in good shape, freed from their supposed arrest the previous night following a show in Ontario. Main support came from the rising Massachusetts metalcore masters (that they have become without a doubt) All That Remains [www.allthatremains.cc]. With former fans of the style now repelled by any band loosely associated with it due to its ascension to nu-metal heights of mass popularity, enjoyment is still there to be had if this bias is suspended. Iâ€™ve found this band talented and unpretentious enough from the start to get on as a fan and surprisingly, unlike most other bands from this scene, they have not disappointed me yet, releasing their third and extremely solid new album The Fall Of Ideals. Replacing a few members since their 2002 (recorded in 2000) debut Behind Silence and Solitude, All That Remains have finally assumed the degree of confidence in the live setting needed to propel the band to the heights they are obviously aspiring to. Former Shadows Fall singer Phil Labonte prowled the stage energetically to make up for his lack of height, a stark contrast to his guarded posture when All That Remains first visited in 2002 with The Crown and Darkest Hour. The audience responded particularly well to their catchy songwriting, singing along to older track Tattered On My Sleeve, and rocking out just the same to the new album rich setlist despite not knowing much of the words. An impressive set by a hard-working band that is going places and are doing metalcore the way it should be done.