“Through the Fire and Flames” Drum Transcription — Dave Mackintosh with DragonForce

Posted on March 26, 2023

 Through the Fire and Flames

“Through the Fire and Flames”? Right off the bat... you wanna laugh. I know you do. But 15 years ago, my friends and I thought this song was badass. Why? Guitar Hero of course:

Sorry, but like my post about The Fall of Troy, I had to pick the oldest video I could find. And like that earlier Guitar Hero song I featured on my site, this is the kind of tune I couldn’t really comprehend when I was younger. “Through the Fire and Flames” is a blistering whirlwind of heavy metal precision. 

I transcribed the first verse of the song about 5 years ago. What inspired me to do so I can’t quite remember. Thanks to Guitar Hero III, there are isolated drum tracks floating around the internet; listen to one of these videos to check out how hilariously furious Dave Mackintosh’s drumming is. And it’s probably business as usual for the kind of music he plays!

The drumming has a double–time feel throughout; many of the backbeats are on the 8th note upbeat. It’s actually a bit disorienting to listen to the isolated drums when there’s no musical context around them. 

And then there are moments when Dave just starts hauling ass on the double kick with steady 16th notes. Sometimes it’s with the snare on the quarter notes, other times he maintains the double time feel for maximum ferocity:

As far as fills go, there’s a pretty familiar assortment of double kick fills; you’ll often hear the well–known six–note pattern (RLRLKK) as well as quad fills (RLKK).

There are a few oddball fills that come when Dave plays singles on the snare, and then on a cymbal (such as the ride) in unison with the kick: 

I really had to give it a close listen to make certain this is actually what he’s playing. It’s intense for sure. 

Listening to the isolated drums, you can tell that the song is making heavy use of samples. Many of the crashes in the full mix have been dolled up with some sort of percussive synth stab. 

I’m actually not a huge fan of the mixing on “Through the Fire and Flames”. It seems to be a classic example of a mid–2000s loudness war casualty. Most of the instruments in the full mix kind of smear together. 

While I only did this track’s first verse (and instrumental), I was tempted to do the whole thing. But I decided not to — the entire song is over seven minutes long after all, and I don’t even play with two kick drums, let alone heavy metal! Most of the licks in my three pages will nonetheless give you a good overview of the whole song. 

There are a couple more things to broadly discuss. The next verse starts with the snare on 2 and 4; it almost sounds like it’s in half–time because of how vigorous the drumming is beforehand.

After the second verse, there’s a lengthy solo section. Listen closely to the start of this movement, around the 4:00 minute mark. There’s an abrupt tempo change, with the song slowing down from 200 BPM to 170. About 40 seconds later, the tune speeds right back up to 200. 

I’m guessing the band thought it would be a neat way to keep the energy going since it’s such a long tune. It’s the kind of gag I’m interested in using in my own songwriting. 

“Through the Fire and Flames” is quite the odyssey; this is the kind of track you’d expect Rick Beato or 12Tone to talk about. I’m not even equipped to dissect the outrageous imagery of the lyrics!

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