Dragonforce / Pythia Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     June 28, 2012    
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Dragonforce / Pythia - Club 100, London (UK)– 16th February 2012

As close an encounter as any Dragonforce obsessive could have dreamed of, London's legendary Club 100 is already abuzz with anticipation as newbie singer Marc Hudson prepares to prove his chops in the most unforgivingly intimate of gigs. Stripped of studio gloss and sophisticated PA systems, the club's rather boxy, hit-and-miss acoustics have seen many a lesser band crash and burn. But for the cheering hordes gathered here in the thick of an otherwise gloomy working week, expectations among fans have rarely been so lofty.

Bedecked in epic, heavy duty armour atop the Club 100's altogether more modest stage, London symphonic crusaders Pythia make an unintentionally pantomime-ish first impression. But happily, the blistering, breakneck-paced metal they deal in is anything but amateur as Emily Ovenden's muscular pipes soar effortlessly above a monstrous mass of blastbeats and medieval-style symphonies. Unshakably full-bodied in delivery, the expert songstress leads a pummelling yet nimbly operatic assault that's rich in nods to early Nightwish. And though the keyboard-driven flourishes featured here are occasionally muffled by Pythia's more metallic dynamics, theirs is a largely razor-sharp, wildly energetic outing.

However humble their surroundings, Dragonforce's anticipated entrance could never be anything less than explosive as these seasoned entertainers plunge headlong into fan favourite 'Heroes Of Our Time.' Enjoyed at extraordinarily close range, it's no surprise that this super-charged slab of riff candy stirs fans into an instant frenzy that, by the track's euphoric, Nintendo-esque solo, leaves jaws agape throughout the venue. While Herman Li's acrobatic shredding makes for a typically limelight-stealing spectacle, all eyes are on newcomer Marc Hudson tonight, who, despite a couple of initial sound gremlins, quickly proves a steel-lunged force to be reckoned with. But for all his effortless talent, the youthful singer is refreshingly free from rock star posturing in a show that witnesses the five-piece at the top of their gloriously epic game.

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Plucked from fresh full-length 'The Power Within,' choice cut 'Cry Thunder' pushes Hudson's seemingly limitless vocal range to stratospheric new heights. Pinned down by skull-splitting beats and death-tinged grooves, this satisfyingly ferocious call to arms strikes an intelligent balance between infectious hooks and face-melting aggression. But it's with 'Starfire's' breathtaking balladry that the singer's more fluid and luxuriant tones come to the fore alongside a crowd-pleasing slew of Whitesnake-style riffage.

Hot on the heels of this early noughties anthem, new standout 'Lost Fallen World' sees the band storm fearlessly ahead into unpredictably speedy territory. Despite being introduced as Dragonforce's “fastest song ever,” this sound barrier-breaking number is no simple exercise in speed, with its taut riffage being neatly tied up in sing-along choruses and multi-directional licks. The varied mix of established favourites and fresh cuts that follow may scarcely be breaking new ground, but the entertainment value for which Dragonforce have long been adored has never been more unparalleled. .

Faye Coulman

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