Album Reviews

Brainstorm – Firesoul Review

brainstorm_cover

Released By: AFM Records

Release Date: April 15, 2014

Genre: Power Metal

Links: http://www.brainstorm-web.net/

 

Line Up:

Andy B. Franck – Vocals

Torsten Ihlenfeld – Guitar

Milan Loncaric – Guitar

Antonio Ieva – Bass

Dieter Bernert – Drums

 

Tracklist:

1. Erased By The Dark

2. Firesoul

3. Descendants Of The Fire

4. Entering Solitude

5. Recall The Real

6. Shadowseeker

7. Feed Me Lies

8. What Grows Inside

9. The Chosen

10. …And I Wonder

 

In what has already been a great year for comeback albums and surprises, perhaps the biggest shock for me has come from a band I had previously not cared too much about. While I had been familiar with German band Brainstorm’s previous three albums and had found them each to be enjoyable in their own way, I had never exactly been wowed by them, so any pending releases weren’t really at the top of my list of priorities. However, with their tenth full length album Firesoul, they have impressed me so much that I deeply regret never checking into their more acclaimed earlier albums before, because this is simply an incredible, must hear album for any power metal fan.

Brainstorm are known for their signature style of power metal, which even when compared to the typical guitar driven German style of the genre, tends to be much more on the aggressive and powerful side. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they completely abandoned this approach with their last three albums, but Memorial Roots in particular was a very experimental album where the riffs felt very subdued, in large part due to a strange production sound that seemed to be holding the riffs back. I actually liked that album the most of the three I had heard, because I found it to be their most melodic and actually their most accessible (contrary to reviews I had read that suggested the exact opposite), but it must be said that it and its immediate successor On The Spur Of The Moment weren’t really the best starting points for newcomers. Firesoul, however, seems to be a perfect example of what the band is all about.

The promotional notes I received along with the album seem to be pushing this as a spiritual successor to their most highly acclaimed albums Soul Temptation and Liquid Monster (which along with Metus Mortis were all mixed and mastered by Achim Köhler, who has once again helped with Firesoul,) and while I can’t really comment much on that at this point, from the couple tracks each I have sampled from those albums, I would say this album is much more in line with them than it is with their previous three. The orchestrations from Soul Temptation have returned, and are especially prominent on tracks like “Recall The Real” and “…And I Wonder”, though for the most part this is a very guitar driven album. Speaking of which, fans worried that the band had lost their edge have no need for concern, as the riffs are back in full force for this one, and their presence can be felt immediately this time, unlike on Memorial Roots. At the same time, this is way more melodic than any of their other albums I have heard, and there are some very epic soaring choruses throughout, so slight elements from the former album can still be heard. This album also has some of their fastest songs I’ve heard, to go along with their typically crushing mid-tempo tracks. In fact, while all their other albums I’ve heard felt like an even mix of power metal and heavy metal, I’d say this one is about 75/25 in favor of power metal. To sum it up, this album feels like a perfect mix of their more intense earlier albums, and their more melodic newer albums, except that now the two styles are both in full force on all tracks, so each song is equal parts heavy, intense, melodic and epic at the same time, and this combination makes it easily my favorite album of theirs so far.

As good as the musicians are on this album, the biggest highlight is definitely vocalist Andy B. Franck. His typically epic and raspy voice sounds as powerful and intense as ever, and on the heavy songs he certainly kicks ass along with the best of them. However, I actually find him even more impressive on the slower, more laid back tracks, as his lower register is simply dynamite on this album, and his more relaxed vocals are absolutely incredible, making the already amazing choruses all the more impressive. “Recall The Real” in particular is by far my favorite Brainstorm song right now, just because of how awesome Andy is on it.

This album wastes no time with generic intros, as the album opener “Erased By The Dark” is an awesome, pounding mid-tempo track that serves as a perfect introduction to Brainstorm’s sound, though the speedier and even more aggressive title track is perhaps even better. I already mentioned “Recall The Real”, but man is it ever an amazing song. It has an epic atmospheric intro, and is a slower track overall where the orchestrations can be heard throughout, and the riffs are very good as well, but as I said before, Andy completely steals the show on this one. The closing track “…And I Wonder” is quite similar, and is probably my second favorite track. Other highlights include the speedier tracks “Descendants Of The Fire”, “Shadowseeker” and “Feed Me Lies”. Honestly, though, this is an extremely consistent album, and I think fans of any of their previous work should be happy with at least something here, as fans of their speedier songs have 5 tracks to be excited about, fans of their heavier material can certainly expect to enjoy this more than their last few albums, and fans of their more epic and melodic work can expect to love this from start to finish.

On the whole, Firesoul seems like everything Brainstorm fans were hoping for and as someone who had previously doubted if the band was worthy of all the praise they get from power metal fans, I can say this album definitely made me a fan.

 

Written by Travis

Ratings    Travis    9/10

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