UK paladins of power metal, DragonForce are touring North America to promote their latest album, Extreme Power Metal, and kicked off the tour with a sold-out show at Club Red in Mesa, Arizona on March 5th. Joining them on their quest are Unleash The Archers and Visions of Atlantis. DragonForce brought with them quite the stage set up and, as much as I love seeing shows at Club Red, I think perhaps a larger venue like The Pressroom in Phoenix or The Marquee Theater in Tempe would have been better to accommodate all of their props and gear, as well as a larger audience.

Austrian bards, Visions of Atlantis started off the evening. As I mentioned before, DragonForce brought so much with them that guitarist Christian Douscha, bassist Herbert Glos, and vocalists Clémentine Delauney and Michele Guaitoli were left with a tiny swath of space at the front of the stage in which to move around. Drummer Thomas Caser was nowhere to be seen. He may have been hiding behind a drapery, I’m not sure. The lack of space, however, did make the performance feel intimate with plenty of interaction between the four visible musicians.

DragonForce (w/ Unleash The Archers, Visions of Atlantis) at Club Red (Mesa, Arizona) on March 5, 2020

Like Visions of Atlantis, Unleash the Archers’ movement was constrained to a small area. Drummer Scott Buchanan was somewhat visible, however, he was tucked into a poorly lit corner. Although they fall into the power metal subgenre, their sound is reminiscent of early heavy metal bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Vocalist Brittney Slayes lives up to her name. Her voice is powerful and she possesses a great range. They premiered a new song, “Soulbound,” which will appear on an upcoming album that will be released later this year.

Finally, all the tarps were removed from the enormous drum kit and arcade game props on the stage, the laser light show commenced, the audience unsheathed their light-up pixel swords, and DragonForce took the stage. Guitarists Herman Li and Sam Totman made their entrances atop the arcade cabinets that flanked the stage, towering over the audience, as sci-fi and fantasy-inspired footage played on a backdrop behind the drums. The screens on the arcade games featured montages of classic video game footage. Like all great power metal bands, there’s a level of cheesiness, but they embrace it in a completely unpretentious way. For an encore, they came back playing Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.” There’s a surprise for you…

DragonForce’s Mesa Setlist:

1. Highway to Oblivion
2. Fury of the Storm
3. The Last Dragonborn
4. Ashes of the Dawn
5. Heart Demolition
6. Video Game Medley
7. Banjo Solo/Guitar Solo
8. Black Fire
9. Razorblade Meltdown
10. Cry Thunder
11. Remembrance Day
12. Valley of the Damned
13. My Heart Will Go On
14. Through the Fire and Flames

Artwork for ‘Extreme Power Metal’ by Dragonforce