Herman Li reveals Guitar Hero paid DragonForce “barely any money” for Through the Fire and Flames

Herman Li of DragonForce
(Image credit: Miikka Skaffari/FilmMagic)

While a power metal masterclass in its own right, DragonForce's Through the Fire and Flames has become synonymous with Guitar Hero. The expert difficulty level of the track quickly gained notoriety upon the release of the franchise's third installment, Legends of Rock, in 2007, and has eluded many button-mashing gamers since.

But despite its popularity, the fee DragonForce were paid for Through the Fire and Flames to be included in the game was much lower than you might guess.

In a new TikTok video, guitarist Herman Li says the band were not paid the “millions of dollars” one might expect for the song, but rather a one-off fee of “just a bit less than $3,000”.

He adds that this sum was subsequently divvied up amongst the band members, their manager, record label, accountants and others, meaning the amount Li himself pocketed from allowing the use of the track was “barely any money” – so little, in fact, that he doesn't remember.


♬ Through the Fire and Flames - Dragonforce

But the guitarist isn't at all resentful; in fact he says Guitar Hero featuring the track led to a great deal of exposure for the band at a time when “guitar music wasn't really that popular”.

“Letting the audience hear our music and decide if they like it or not was really special, because we definitely don't play music that fits the radio,” he says. “You're not gonna hear seven minutes of shredding melodic metal on the radio.”

It could be argued that DragonForce and Guitar Hero have a sort of symbiotic relationship, as the exposure to the masses that Guitar Hero granted the band has so far netted Through the Fire and Flames over 160 million streams on Spotify to date, a number far greater than any of their other songs.

In terms of commercial success, the song is certified platinum, having sold over a million copies globally.

Earlier this year, it was announced that Guitar Hero could be making a comeback following Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard. In an interview with The Washington Post following the acquisition, Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer noted that he's keen to revive some old franchises.

While Guitar Hero itself was not named as a potential title for revival, its commercial success makes it highly likely, with a whopping 25 million units sold and $2 billion in gross revenue. The most recent installment in the series was 2015's Guitar Hero Live.

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Sam Roche

Sam was Staff Writer at GuitarWorld.com from 2019 to 2023, and also created content for Total Guitar, Guitarist and Guitar Player. He has well over 15 years of guitar playing under his belt, as well as a degree in Music Technology (Mixing and Mastering). He's a metalhead through and through, but has a thorough appreciation for all genres of music. In his spare time, Sam creates point-of-view guitar lesson videos on YouTube under the name Sightline Guitar.