Sound — 10
As DragonForce themselves have stated, the music is not terribly different. It is however, their most diverse album since Valley of the Damned, in 2003. There is more variation in tempo and texture, and honestly, they have never sounded better. The production is very tastefully done, with clear and precise tones. As the music is more varied, so too are the individual works of the guys. Herman and Sam still shred, as usual. Vadim's keys are beginning to flourish in comparison to the guitars, and features more piano and strings than the previous albums. Newcomer Frederic Leclercq is more than capable of filling Adrian Lambert's shoes, and even contributes to the songwriting (first bassist to do so), having said that, he provides a solid rhythmic stream of mayhem alongside drummer Dave Mackintosh, who is as good as ever.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics are typical DF. Battles, quests, etc. However, they are improving as lyricists, and as songwriters. The lyrics do not focus as much on mythical battles and the usual topics, but instead have begun to incorporate emotion into them. They are still DF, though. ZP Theart's vocals are as good as ever, and through the greater diversity of the album, is able to showcase his abundant skill on new levels.
Overall Impression — 10
Critically well-received, Beatdown is looking to assume the throne of Magnum Opus, and rightfully deserves to. It stands above all their previous work and is a working testament to the bands' ability. Heroes of our Time, Reasons to Live, and The Warrior Inside stand out the most. The worst thing about the album is the artwork, which was the source of much friction among fans and critics alike. It is their most beautifully crafted album to date. It may seem a little less guitar-driven at times, which is refreshing, yet they still stand out of all the instruments. If all my DF albums were lost/stolen, this would be the first to replace, as it is easily the most enjoyable. Did they do anything truly original? No, not really, but it is the most varied and original album to date. Those seeking a foothold to DFs music should use this album, essential to the existing fan.