Interview with Dragonforce guitarist Herman Li | By Zach Brendza
London’s DragonForce are known as that band who play at blazing speeds that humans should not be able to maintain, and they possess the body of work to support that frenetic claim.
But on their new album, Reaching into Infinity—released on May 19 via Metal Blade Records—the power metal band expand upon their first sixth studio efforts and strive for more. Guitarist Herman Li asserts that on their seventh LP, the band change gears throughout, playing faster at some points, slower at others, and heavier elsewhere, just trying to mix it up more. “It’s just a natural progression of the way the band has been going the last two albums,” Li explains. “Diversifying it, adding more elements, and a continuation of that. It’s got to the point where we’ve done enough albums where it was just fast. Now, we can slow down for a few songs, put more contrast in the music.”
On top of Reaching into Infinity’s different sound, its runtime also sets it apart. The album is the longest in DragonForce’s discography, clocking in at 60 minutes and 46 seconds, outlasting their 2008 LP, Ultra Beatdown, by about two minutes. “The Edge of the World” appears on the band’s new album and is their longest song to date, running over 11 minutes. But Li suggests it’s a diverse song, not just a long one, with a lot of different sections. He thinks it’s a perfect way to define this album, and it was time for DragonForce to make that kind of song. “We’re showing that we can do more than just a fast, long song,” Li asserts. “At the beginning of DragonForce, we were concentrating on just fast, intense, over-the-top epic songs. Now, we realize that we can make that kind of album, but while retaining and adding.”
Reaching into Infinity marks the third album with vocalist Marc Hudson, who joined the band in March 2011. Li admits that Hudson was put in a hard spot coming into the band after four albums, but he has evolved throughout his time in DragonForce and now brings his own definition to the vocals, which he shows on this album. “From reading the internet comments, so many fans are saying that’s the best vocals he’s done,” Li says. “It feels good to know that your band is still getting better after doing that many albums. It’s not an easy task.”
DragonForce embarked on a world tour promoting their new album in June and will continue traveling throughout 2017, playing Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., the U.K., and Russia, among other countries. Beyond playing those shows, Li wants the band to continue to improve, musically and in their live show, but to do so gradually. “If you do this massive change, sometimes your band becomes something that isn’t you,” Li asserts. “Almost like technology, improving little bit by little bit, and that’s how we approach it to be able to keep the sound. […] I think every tour, fans will same ‘oh they got better than last time.’ There’s always somewhere to go. There’s no end. We still want to do it that way to get better.”
Promo Photo by Paul Harries