DragonForce are probably the band most responsible for me getting into metal. Sure, I had a couple of Linkin Park albums at the time but they were a support band at the first gig I went to and the first proper, metal music video I remember watching was ‘Through The Fire and Flames’. The lights! The shred! The hair! It all had a permanent effect on me. So when I heard vocalist ZP Theart had parted ways with the band due to “insurmountable differences of musical opinion” I was genuinely scared whether my heroes had a future. While Event Horizon isn’t quite the affirmation of continued relevance that The Power Within is, it definitely shows there is a future for ZP independent from the power metal behemoth he has left behind.
First things first, this is definitely not DragonForce version 2.0 – nor even a broadly similar splinter group like Power Quest. While a couple of the songs on Event Horizon show some power metal influences, the vast majority of the album is much more reminiscent of 80s style hard rock. Songs like ‘Stay a While’ and ‘In The Air Tonight’ have a very Def Leppard vibe to them, and ‘King In Ruins’ would fit comfortably on any compilation of 80s ballads. I suppose the shift in genre isn’t too surprising when you consider ZP’s given reason for leaving, but it’s definitely worth bearing in mind if you were hoping to hear a direct continuation of Ultra Beatdown.
ZP’s voice is in just as good shape as ever; there is something distinctive about his singing that really adds an edge to the entire album. However, I AM I is not a one-man show – Jacob Ziemba brings some fancy guitar chops to the mix and throws in a few really nice solos. The problem is that all of this comes with a single systemic flaw. Even though I don’t listen to much hard rock, many of Event Horizon’s songs sound just a bit too over-familiar already. By imitating such a well-trodden genre, I AM I aren’t really bringing anything new to the table. That said, the execution is great and if what you’re looking for is a variation on hard rock with ZP’s considerable pipes attached to it then this won’t bother you – but it’s still disappointing that a significant segment of the album seems to be lacking ideas of the band’s own.
That little burst of negativity aside, I’ve enjoyed Event Horizon. It’s catchy, well-performed stuff that sounds like it will transfer perfectly to live shows. I wish that all of the songs followed the examples of the best tracks on the album such as ‘Dust 2 Dust’ and ‘Wasted Wonders’, which manage to be pleasingly retro without sounding tired – but the overall forecast for I AM I is looking good!
I AM I’s Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/IAMIOfficial