DragonForce

Extreme Power Metal Tour featuring DragonForce invades The Masquerade in Atlanta, GA, Sunday, April 10, 2022

 

Continuing the quest to broaden my musical horizons in 2022, I ventured out on Sunday night to catch DragonForce’s Extreme Power Metal tour at The Masquerade in downtown Atlanta. Supporting DragonForce on this tour stop were three openers, including Seven Spires, Visions of Atlantis, and Firewind.

Having no idea what to expect, my 17-year-old guitarist son (who was just dying to see DragonForce’s Herman Li shred) and I pulled into the venue parking deck 45 minutes before the doors were scheduled to open only to find 100+ fans already lined up! Maybe we underestimated their popularity, or maybe it was just the fact it was finally 70 degrees in Atlanta, but by the time the doors opened at 6:30pm, it was clear by the long winding lines that The Masquerade was going to be packed to the rafters.

Kicking off the night at 7:30pm was Boston-based Seven Spires, a band of friends that formed in 2013 at the Berklee College of Music. Seven Spires is out on the road supporting their third full-length album, Gods of Debauchery, released in September 2021. Opening with “Wanderer’s Prayer” from said disc, you get an immediate sense of vocalist Adrienne Cowan’s powerful range. I was really impressed with how she could flow from delicate to death metal within the same song. Backed by talented Jack Kosto (guitar), Peter de Reyna (bass) and Chris Dovas (drums), Cowan and the band performed seven songs (not sure if that irony was on purpose?), including “Lightbringer” from Gods of Debauchery with Firewind’s singer Herbie Langhans. Seven Spires only played for 30 minutes, but the early, near-capacity crowd clearly was energized now for what was to come.

 

Seven Spires
Adrienne Cowan – Vocals, orchestration
Jack Kosto – Guitars
Peter de Reyna – Electric and Upright Bass
Chris Dovas – Drums

 

 

Setlist
1.) Wanderer’s Prayer
2.) Gods of Debauchery
3.) Oceans of Time
4.) Lightbringer
5.) Succumb
6.) Drowner of Worlds
7.) Dare to Live

 

Following a quick 10 minute changeover (the bands shared drum kits), Austrian metal band Visions of Atlantis took the stage to their tune “Master the Hurricane” from their forthcoming album due out May 13, Pirates. While conducting some research for this show, I will readily admit I was slightly concerned about the theatrics of donning piratesque garb on stage, but in fact that enhanced the whole Visions of Atlantis experience. The symphonic and melodic vocal dueting between ClĂ©mentine Delauncey and Michele Guaitoli was engaging and really elevated their thematic songwriting. Backing Delauncey and Guaitoli were Christian Douscha (guitar), Hebert Glos (bass), and founding member Thomas Caser (drums). Their 30 minute set ended with their latest single (video below), the catchy and full-of-punch tune (the chorus is still stuck in my head!) “Legion of the Seas.”

 

Visions of Atlantis
Thomas Caser – drums
Christian Douscha – guitars
Herbert Glos – bass
ClĂ©mentine Delauney – vocals
Michele Guaitoli – vocals

 

 

Setlist
1.) Master the Hurricane
2.) A Life of Our Own
3.) A Journey to Remember
4.) Heroes of the Dawn
5.) Melancholy Angel
6.) Legion of the Seas

 

Taking the stage around 9pm and anchored by well-known guitarist Gus G (formerly of Ozzy Osbourne), Greek power metal band Firewind was the penultimate act of the night. Now fronted by lead vocalist Herbie Langhans, Firewind kicked off their set with “Welcome to the Empire” off their 2020 self-titled album. Having only appreciated Gus G by reputation, I was completely blown away finally seeing him live. He played with a mean purpose, complimented by Langhans’ wide vocal range along with energetic musicianship coming from both Tony Dickinson (bass) and Johan Nunez (drums). I was also a bit stunned to learn they were on tour celebrating their 20th anniversary – where has this band been all my life? The highlight of the set was definitely Firewind’s heavy metal version (with support of Cowan from Seven Spires) of the song “Maniac” from the 1983 film Flashdance (video below). It was nothing short of amazing and the crowd went nuts!

 

Firewind
Gus G. – lead guitar, backing vocals
Tony Dickinson – bass
Johan Nunez – drums
Herbie Langhans – lead vocals

 

 

Setlist
1.) Welcome to the Empire
2.) Head Up High
3.) Destination Forever
4.) World on Fire
5.) The Fire and the Fury
6.) Ode to Leonidas
7.) Break Away
8.) Rising Fire
9.) Maniac (Michael Sembello cover)

 

As the clock struck 10pm, the large dragon positioned behind the drum kit, along with white stage spotlights, began to illuminate to signify the headliner of the show, DragonForce. At this point of the night, the crowd was clearly amped up, with fans packed into the general admission floor like sardines, as well as across the two levels of upper balconies. I honestly had no idea DragonForce had this much of a cult following.

Similar to the show my All Music Magazine colleague Terrell Stewart covered in Denver last month, DragonForce launched into “Highway to Oblivion” from their 2019 album, Extreme Power Metal. As you can see from the photos below, guitarists Herman Li and Sam Totman, along with bassist Alicia Vigil, all wore light-up vented classes as the shredding began.

While my exposure to DragonForce was generally through Li’s and Totman’s pop culture influence within the Guitar Hero series, it was clear that I was in the fandom minority. When their mouths weren’t gaped open while taking in all the finger tapping, whammy bar bending and guitar tossing, the capacity crowd sang along with every song. And as continually mentioned by Li, for those not physically in attendance, the concert was also being streamed live on Twitch.

Given that I am not all that familiar with their catalog (other than “Through the Fire and Flames” – Atlanta video posted below), I would encourage the more avid fans reading this review to digest the setlist below. However, as I reflected upon my first DragonForce experience, all I can say is that it was nothing short of a carnival atmosphere.

The nearly two-hour set was replete with confetti and streamer canons, a CO2 gun, sparkler boxes, giant video game consoles that book-ended the stage (complete with stairs for the band to perform from up high), and of course, the aforementioned talking dragon. By the time the band hit the encore of a Celine Dion cover for “My Heart Will Go On” from the 1997 film Titanic, there was an active mosh pit in the center of the floor coupled with crowd surfing to the front of the stage. Even singer Marc Hudson, whose vocals reminded me a bit of Robert Mason (Warrant), got into the crowd surfing action with a little help from the security team in the photo pit area.

In the end I would sum up the night with two words: exhilarating exhaustion. This almost 5-hour concert experience was super-fun, exposed me to excellent bands I normally would have never caught live, and I officially checked off seeing guitar virtuosos Li and Totman from my must-see list.

 

DragonForce
Herman Li – guitar
Sam Totman – guitar
Marc Hudson – lead vocals
Gee Anzalone – drums
Alicia Vigil – bass

 

 

Setlist
1.) Highway to Oblivion
2.) Fury of the Storm
3.) The Last Dragonborn
4.) Ashes of the Dawn
5.) Heart Demolition
6.) Dracula’s Castle/Fight On!
7.) Banjo Solo/Guitar Solo
8.) Black Fire
9.) Cry Thunder
10.) Rememberance Day
11.) Valley of the Damned

Encore
12.) My Heart Will Go On (Celine Dion cover)
13.) Through the Fire and Flames

 

 

 

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Elliott is a music photographer covering shows in the Atlanta, Georgia and the surrounding area. The highlight of his photography career was back in the early 90s, selling Neil Diamond the rights to his negatives from a show and purchasing a set of tires for his 1979 280ZX during college with the money.

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