The German Power Metal band BRAINSTORM have returned, and have chosen the right path again, aided by the man aka Achim Köhler who guided them on some of their best albums: “Metus Mortis” (2001) and the splendid “Soul Temptation” (2003). He also mixed/mastered “Liquid Monster” (2005), which was, compared to previous BRAINSTORM albums, a step back song-wise. It had good songs, but on a whole certainly as strong as the albums the band put out until then.
With “Downburst” (2008) BRAINSTORM went for a more accessible approach, which culminated in lighter albums like “Memorial Roots” (2009) and the uneven “On The Spur Of The Moment” (2011). Each of these two has good to very good songs, but on a whole they lack the bite, the power, the attractiveness of the albums released until 2005. Reading last year that the band was working on a new album, made a bit doubtful, fearing they would continue the direction they chose on the last albums. But then the name of Achim Köhler appeared, and this gave new hope. Finally! Why they didn’t hire the man on those 3 albums, I don’t know: money? schedule conflict? No matter, he was available again and that’s all that matters.
The result is “Firesoul”, released on the 4th of April 2014, still via AFM Records, an agreement that started with “Downburst”. This new album begins with the bombastic, thundering melodic Power Metal of “Erased By The Dark”. Of course the symphonic backing is of importance, like on e.g. “Ambiguity” and good old “Soul Temptation”. After that the firm verses kick in, as do Andy’s powerful vocals. The bridge is rather hymnic, connecting well with the bombastic chorus. I also like the variation in rhythm, including in the solo part. The bursts come across as if representing explosions.
Powerful guitar work is vital in the title track’s intro. And as you can expect, the song then really takes off. Andy’s singing sounds more vicious here, more aggressive. And on a whole, this is another übercatchy song. The hymnic bridge does contains a lot of singing, perhaps a bit too much. Vocals are also the dominating factor in the pounding, melodic chorus. However, the song’s quite accessible, inline with the last few albums. The solo is not as epic as before, I have to admit. Afterwards, a typical structure, it’s back to bridge, chorus, etc… The same powerful drive can be found in “Descendants Of The Fire”, where the band seems indeed to have found the fire of before again. Pounding Metal, aggressive vocals, and music that sticks! The chorus is a bit slower, with the vocals more stretched out. Solo time is wild again, like in the past. There’s even room for a dual moment. Afterwards it’s business as usual.
“Entering Solitude” is a slower, more radio-friendly song. It follows in the steps of previous songs like “All Those Words” (on the “Liquid Monster” album). Power returns with “Recall The Real”, but not before it’s nice intro of choir and acoustic guitar. The Metal is added to further build the song, making it grow and then the gates are opened for this tight rocking track, where a mix of electric and acoustic sounds go hand in hand. More (pounding) power is activated in the chorus, though. Like “Entering Solitude” this is also an accessible, melodic song, here with melodic breaks and moments to spice things up. Kudos also for the solo parts and the varied drumming.
Let’s speed things up: “Shadowseeker” offers ferocious riffing and fast drumming. That’s more like it! Also, it’s very similar to “Doorway To Survive” (to be found on the “Soul Temptation” album). I’d say “Shadowseeker” is more melodic and accessible, in a manner of speaking, but both songs are related. Definitely a highlight here! As is “Feed Me Lies” with the typical, catchy BRAINSTORM guitar work. Another fast track it is and it sounds and feels sooooo damn good! The chorus is where the tempo drops a bit, in favour of the melodic/emotional input (vocals, piano, symphonic backing). But overall, another excellent song.
“What Grows Inside” commences with rough riffing and indicates that it’s gonna blow. Typical double bass Power Metal, the BRAINSTORM train rolls on. Andy’s singing follows suit. The chorus is a bit slower, at half speed, you could say. Before the obligatory solo moment, the band did add a nice instrumental part to bridge the gap. “The Chosen” starts directly, offering the classic ingredients. The music is melodic and relatively simple. Again the symphonic backing aids in terms of atmosphere and emotion. Powerful verses are alright, but all energy comes out in the chorus, where the band shifted into a higher gear, all the while making sure the melodies do their work. Especially the symphonic side. Solos are delivered by guitars and keyboards, taking turns. Last but… well, yes, least, is “…And I Wonder”, a melodic, midtempo rocker. Somehow more modes than before. Clean verses contrasting with the straight-forward, Poppy chorus. There may be a nice twist before the solo, but that’s perhaps the sole interesting element here. “And I Wonder” why this song stands out from the rest in this way, indeed.
So, again, I’m happy to hear that the band opted for mr. Köhler again to play with the buttons, because not only are the songs very good, it also takes a good sound to make those songs shine. BRAINSTORM rekindled the fire in its soul. The band is back on track, especially the one it gradually left behind after the fantastic “Soul Temptation”. With “Firesoul” they took the best of both eras and made one of the best Power Metal albums of 2014. Heavily recommended!
- Erased By The Dark
- Descendants Of The Fire
- Entering Solitude
- Recall The Real
- Feed Me Lies
- What Grows Inside
- The Chosen
- …And I Wonder
Andy B. Franck – vocals
Torsten Ihlenfeld – guitar
Milan Loncaric – guitar
Antonio Ieva – bass
Dieter Bernert – drums