As practitioners of high-energy power metal with a taste for the theatrical, maybe even the absurd, DragonForce have always been open to new ways of presenting their sound.
In the beginning, it was trampolines onstage, more bounce to the hyper-shred ounce. The safety of gear has never been a priority, like that time lead guitarist Herman Li threw his guitar across the stage for his tech to catch and it didn’t go to plan. Hey, you’ve got to break a few eggs… They’ve even had Paul Reed Smith up onstage to trade lakes on a bluegrass hoedown, high-end electric guitars at dusk.
But at the recent 70000 Tons of Metal Cruise 2023, floating on the seven seas, Li and bassist Alicia Vigil took the opportunity to raise the stakes during a tumultuous rendition of Through the Fire and the Flames and finish the set underwater as they took a trip through the water slide and ended up in a hot tub, whereupon Li proceeded to shred from the below the water’s surface.
That would end most players. No Li. He has form for watersports. In 2015, he attempted this very feat at the Full Metal Cruise, his good sense no doubt toasted by the hot Mallorca sunshine. That underwater performance of Through the Fire and the Flames looked cool but Li wasn’t quite satisfied with how long he could hold his breath and shred guitar at the same time, and so in 2018 he switched up his rig, taking precautionary measures to avoid drowning or his Ibanez signature guitar sparking out.
“The underwater guitar solo was cool but I didn’t play in the water long enough because there’s only how much [time] I can hold my breath for,” said Li. “So this time we’re going to do an underwater snorkeling guitar solo, which I’ll play over a minute of guitar solo in the water breathing through a snorkel with just my hands coming above the water with my special customized waterproof guitar that the Ibanez Custom Shop built for me.”
Offering a whole new perspective on what a wet/dry live rig might look like, it turned out that the mask, snorkel and waterproof guitar was just the trick. The results shred for themselves.
This time out Li had company with Vigil gamely taking her bass guitar through the proverbial fire, through the water slide, and into the hot tub – which surely is a swimming pool? By that point, who cares?
Check out this feat of madness, this redefinition of slide guitar, and wonder why the red dye of shame didn’t come out to alert staff to someone widdling in the pool. Well, that's because pee indicator is a myth, and in a pool full of metalheads maybe that's just for the best. What you can't see can't hurt you.
All this looks like a lot of fun, of course but GW's official line – one that has served us well so far – is to advise all players to keep water away from their gear.