Sound — 8
This is the first DragonForce album to feature Marc Hudson as vocalist, who joined the band in early 2011. ZP Theart left in 2010 for creative differences according to online sources. Marc Hudson immediately shows that he is up to the task, however. There are 10 tracks on the album with an approximate run time of 50 minutes. The digital and vinyl versions of the album have 3 bonus tracks, one being an original instrumental piece called "Avant La Tempete" and the other two being a live version of "Cry Thunder" and an alternate chorus version of "Heart Of The Storm". The bonus tracks add about 12 minutes to the run time of the album if you get the digital or vinyl version.
Something that stands out after listening to the album is that the members of DragonForce are really learning to compose with two guitars, keyboard and voice to maximum effect. The songs don't sound as sonically crowded as their previous albums have to me, but instead they manage to let their music breathe just enough so that each element of their music sounds like it belongs. The guitar tones are great with the exception of being slightly too compressed at certain points and the overall mixing is very balanced. No instruments drown out any others and everything sits in its space in the mix comfortably. This is something that DragonForce has been better about with each release, so props go to their producer(s)/engineer(s).
Lyrics — 8
Marc Hudson has really done a great job with his debut with DragonForce. Previous to joining DragonForce in 2011, Marc Hudson had been a member of numerous unsigned rock and metal acts since he began his music career in 2003 as both a guitarist and vocalist. Marc displays an almost operatic control of his voice which is demonstrated to great effect in the context of DragonForce's power/speed metal. There is minimal processing completed on Marc's vocal tracks, with just some minor echo in some places, and what I think is multi-tracking at some places. Marc has already been touring with DragonForce since he joined in 2011 which shows his voice has the needed stamina, and now with the release of "The Power Within" we know he has the range and control needed. I personally like his voice more than I ever liked ZP Theart's voice.
The actual lyrics are very fitting as they really go along with the 'power metal' subject matter. As an example, some of the lyrics from "Cry Thunder" follows: "Time after time/ As we march side by side/ Through the valleys of evil/ And tortured souls/ Night after night/ For glory we fight/ Through the kingdoms of madness/ From tales from the old/ Take now our hand/ With a higher command/ As darkness surrounds us/ Fight as we fall/ Fly by with steel/ The tyrant will kneel/ Our hearts burning stronger/ With the power of soul". So, lyrics about overcoming darkness and unsurmountable odds with heart and soul normal power metal subject matter it seems power metal always either has lyrics about being evil or vanquishing evil. Good stuff, either way. The lyrics absolutely fit the music.
Overall Impression — 8
I really feel like "The Power Within" stands up favorably to DragonForce's previous releases. I'm not saying it is my favorite album, but it isn't out of place in their discography, either. My favorite songs on the album would have to "Holding On", "Cry Thunder", "Seasons" and "Die By The Sword". Of the bonus tracks the only one that seems worthwhile to me is the instrumental piece, "Avant La Tempete". Really I don't dislike any song on this album. I consider myself a part time power metal fan, as I really enjoy it when I'm in the right mood for it, and this album is a winner from beginning to end. While there are some stand out good tracks, none of the tracks are bad. Some of DragonForce's past work has started to all sound the same to me before, but I'm not experiencing this with "The Power Within". I can listen to the album from beginning to end and enjoy the entire experience.
Being just a part time fan of power metal, I would absolutely recommend purchasing this album, and if you are a hardcore power metal fan than this is a must have. The entire album is really well executed, and the mixing is really phenomenal for power metal. Herman and Sam are on top of their game and regardless of if you are even a fan of DragonForce, if you are a fan of the guitar as an instrument than this isn't an album to miss.