Although U.K. power metal band DragonForce is at work on the follow-up to its 2014 album Maximum Overload, it’s also taking time to celebrate its past. Greatest hits compilation Killer Elite — The Hits, The Highs, The Vids (due July 22 on Spinefarm Records) is the first such collection in the band’s 17-year career. According to guitarist Herman Li, the 22-track package is arriving now because it’s “the perfect time” since the group has six studio albums, a live set and a Blu-ray title to cull material from.
“This compilation brings the best of DragonForce together from the beginning up to now, so the new fans who are less familiar with our old material can check out the old stuff easier and vice versa,” says Li. “At the same time, we also get to play some of these songs we haven’t played for so many years live again on this Killer Elite Tour.”
“We wanted to show what we were known for in the first place. The unique sound — with the speed and the over-the-top style we do,” continues Li. “We also wanted to present the diverse side of the band, from slower, melodic songs to the 10-minute epic ‘Soldiers of the Wasteland’” from 2004’s Sonic Firestorm.
Killer Elite spans DragonForce’s career thus far, from 2003 debut Valley of the Damned (the title song and “Black Fire” are included in the track list), to “Three Hammers” and “Symphony of the Night” from Maximum Overload. It also contains the Grammy-nominated “Heroes of Our Time” and “The Last Journey Home” from 2008’s Ultra Beatdown. You can listen to “The Last Journey Home” below:
“This is another long, epic song but in a slower tempo that we hadn’t tried at the time,” says Li of “The Last Journey Home.” “The song takes inspiration from the constant, never-ending touring we did back on the Inhuman Rampage Tour. I can’t remember how many times we actually saw home on that tour. It was one of the fan favorites from Ultra Beatdown, so it was a must.”
Killer Elite would not be complete if it didn’t contain “Through the Fire and Flames,” the leadoff track from 2006’s Inhuman Rampage that sparked a watershed moment in DragonForce’s career. The song’s inclusion in the Guitar Hero video game catapulted the band’s international profile and inspired multitudes of gamers to try to keep up with Li and fellow guitarist Sam Totman’s lighting-fast riffs. In honor of its massive popularity, Guitar Hero Live included the song in its February Shred-a-Thon on GHTV.
“It was a great feeling to see our music was heard by so many people around the world, and people were completely freaking out over it,” recalls Li of when “Through the Fire and Flames” was at the height of its popularity. (The RIAA has certified the song gold.) “We definitely do not make three-minute long, commercial music. A seven-minute, fast melodic metal song with long guitar solos and crazy retro video games sounds became totally cool. We were getting recognized everywhere we went, from Best Buy to airport security. A couple TSA officers once asked to see my fingers. They wanted to see the fingers that recorded ‘Through the Fire and Flames’!”