Valley of the Damned is the debut album by English power metal band DragonForce. In 2000, while their name was still DragonHeart, a demo version of the album was recorded and sent to Noise Records, subsequently gaining DragonHeart a deal with the label. It was later rerecorded in late 2000 and released as the band's debut studio album on 25 February 2003, following the band's obtainance of the deal with Noise Records. Furthermore, after discovering the existence of another band with the name DragonHeart, it was decided that they would change their name to DragonForce, the new moniker being clearly visible at the cover's top. This album was set to be remastered and released with a bonus DVD on 24 September 2007 but was subsequently delayed and was set for release in the UK on 24 May 2009. The remastered version of the album along with the rerelease of Sonic Firestorm was released on 22 February 2010.
The initial demo was recorded on 8 – 12 October and then mixed on 20 November 2000 at Thin Ice Studios with Karl Groom engineering. The rerecording for the album in 2002 mostly took place at Thin Ice Studios in Surrey, by Karl Groom, and at Lamer Luser Studios in London, by Herman Li, from May – October 2002. It was then mixed by Karl Groom, Herman Li and Sam Totman at Thin Ice Studios and mastered at Aubitt Studio by Rob Aubrey and Herman Li.
The Allmusic review by James Christopher Monger awarded the album 4 stars stating "The debut album from U.K. power metal giants Dragonforce is a polarizing affair. Valley of the Damned could be construed as a bloated, Spinal Tap-style tribute to early-'80s fantasy-metal, and in many ways it is; however, it's so well played and so joyously executed that it could very well reignite the entire genre... From the epic title track to the fist-pumping closer, "Heart of a Dragon," the guitar pyrotechnics of Herman Li and Sam Totman light up the sky like a third world war, bending riffs into melodic submission while never overplaying. Vocalist ZP Theart has no qualms about emulating heroes like Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) and Michael Kiske (Helloween), but his lupine howls have a character all their own... Valley of the Damned may not be groundbreaking or cathartic, and lyrics like "In the land of desire with your heart filled with fire you live for the right to be free/We will sail on forevermore to the land of the evening star" may cross the line into heavy metal parody, but it's undeniably entertaining, expertly played, and endlessly fun."
Note: The Japanese edition of the demo included a remastered recording of "Where Dragons Rule" as a bonus track. The original demo version of the song is extremely rare, much like the original versions of "Black Fire" which was never released. However, demos for the songs "Evening Star" and "Heart of a Dragon" were released in 2010 as Japanese bonus tracks for the reissue of Valley of the Damned. Also, Valley of the Damned is the only DragonForce album that has a title track.
Note: "Black Fire" samples the intro theme of the 1987 arcade game Double Dragon, composed by Kazunaka Yamane.
The bonus DVD includes interviews with the band members and producer regarding the Valley of the Damned period and the remix, professionally filmed footage from their first Japanese tour, two commentaries; one from Herman Li and Vadim Pruzhanov and one from ZP Theart and Karl Groom, backstage footage from a live performance in Japan and from the recording, in Denmark, and remixing session for the album.