Dragonforce’s Herman Li Explains How ‘Through the Fire and Flames’ Got So Damn Popular

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Any budding guitarist growing up in the ‘00s probably remembers where they were the first time they heard ‘Through the Fire and Flames.’

Even if you didn’t have a horse in the Dragonforce race for any reason, this was the song that would always kick your ass at the end of Guitar Hero III and would drive you crazy trying to play it perfectly on Expert mode.

Speaking much after the fact though, Herman Li has his own theory about how the song took off the way it did.

Separated from the album it’s a part of, Dragonforce have just as many songs that have the same kind of punch to them as ‘Flames,’ like the operatic sounds of ‘Fury of the Storm’ or ‘Operation Ground and Pound.’ 

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As for Herman, he talked about the state of rock and metal music not being the greatest for their signature brand of music, saying:

To be honest, that song is not really much better than our other songs, it’s a typical Dragonforce-style song. But it’s about, I think, the time, the place, we were at in life. Guitar in metal music, at least in the mainstream – there weren’t many guitar solos. And I think at that point, the explosion of [‘Through the Fire and Flames’], people were looking for something more.”

It also doesn’t hurt that the band were just opening up a tour with Iron Maiden at the time, bringing their grand scope to the same audiences that lost their mind for the more episodic songs off of albums like Powerslave.

When asked about the Guitar Hero connotation though, Li mentioned being thankful for the opportunity to be on the soundtrack, saying “there are lots of great, great songs on ‘Guitar Hero’, but I guess ours was the most ridiculous.

Seven minutes, 15 seconds, and a huge guitar solo section, which wasn’t like a usual thing you hear for many years. And then, at 200 bpm, it’s like, ‘Okay, now we’re going over the top.’”

Then again, ‘Flames’ wouldn’t be here without the memes of it either, and Herman has mentioned getting into the more viral side of Dragonforce’s classic song, saying “now it’s the meme song. I mean, [it’s] everywhere; you open any social media and there’s someone covering it, and it’s cool. You know, I’ve been reacting with fans and jamming with them, playing that on Tik Tok and YouTube. Why not?”

For a band that’s known to be pretty dramatic in their playing, it’s at least nice to see that the guys have a sense of humor about the whole thing, especially considering how little they got paid from Guitar Hero.

It might have been a case of right place and right time, but this song has still been whooping guitarists’ ass for nearly 2 decades now, and likely will for decades to come.

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