It would be easy to assume that DragonForce plunges headlong into "Ultra Beatdown" (Roadrunner) because the tipping point for another U.S. breakthrough is nigh.

It would be easy to assume that DragonForce plunges headlong into "Ultra Beatdown" (Roadrunner) because the tipping point for another U.S. breakthrough is nigh. To be sure, the eight-track follow-up to 2006's international breakthrough "Inhuman Rampage" features plenty of DragonForce's "extreme power metal," as the band calls its music.

But those in the know can attest DF is merely coming into its own after years on the touring circuit. "Heroes of Our Time" stokes the desire to stand up and cheer with fists pumped high, and after fueling the passion with "The Fire Still Burns," the band eases up on the light-speed riffing to keep from falling into a linear quagmire.

"Reasons to Live" heralds death-metal guitars before halting for a Queen-style breakdown, and more nuanced melodic phrasings mark "Heartbreak Armageddon." Before returning to blazing form on "Inside the Winter Storm" and "The Warrior Inside," DragonForce envelops listeners into an all-sway-together-now hug with "A Flame for Freedom."

Guitarist Herman Li says that as one of the performers, it's hard to describe how "Beatdown" differs from "Rampage." However, he explains that the band tried to retain DragonForce's established sound while adding new twists. "It's got elements that we haven't done before, and it's got the element that we're good at, that we've done on the previous album, but [done in a] different way."

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