Title:On The Spur Of The Moment
The German Power Metal formation BRAINSTORM last released an album in 2009 under the title “Memorial Roots” (see the review here), an album that was a bit disappointing to me, especially after the strong first releases. With “Downburst” (2008) you could hear the band went for a more accessible approach. And when comparing the band’s two last albums, “Downburst” wins. Fast-forward then to 2011, the year in which BRAINSTORM returns with a new album. Titled “On The Spur Of The Moment”, the guys were guided by Axel Heckert in Studio 22 to record 10 new songs. The limited edition digipack adds two bonus tracks to that: “This Pain Is Mine” and “The Heartless Spawn Of Seed”. The release date was set on the 30th September. When looking at the cover art, it seems the band recycled the devil/demon from the back of “Liquid Monster” (2005). The French Heavy/Power Metal band HEAVENLY also used him on their 2008 release “Virus”.
My expectations for “On The Spur Of The Moment” weren’t that high, but somehow I still hoped the band would have written songs in vein of their older material. “Below The Line” opens the album as a typical midtempo, hymnic BRAINSTORM track. Only, it doesn’t sound as magical as before. The chorus is rather light – contrary to the verses – and contains symphonic touches. Andy’s singing also sounds a bit whiney (by lack of a better word). A spacey break with heavy drums and guitars forms the bridge to the awaited guitar solo. All in all not a bad song, but it misses the spark of old. “In The Blink Of An Eye” is then a better song. At first you get heavy, sharp riffing and drums help to create tension. This part alone sounds very promising! Double-bass midtempo then follows. Speed is not an issue, but the music does sound dark. Maybe it was the mp3 or the production is indeed like that, but I had the impression there were waves of bass that subdued the guitars and drums, like a cloud or blanket. The chorus is nice and epic, so to speak.
“Temple Of Stone” is another very good song. After an intro with heavy distortion the music comes bursting in. Heavy, groovy, grinding even (how it sounds). This is excellent for headbanging purposes. And the whole should be killer on stage. Andy’s vocals also sound more vicious and that’s of course a good thing. This is a simple song, but quite effective. “In These Walls” can also be added the list of highlights. Tension, melody and atmosphere take up the first moments, which flow over nicely to the clean guitars and keyboard/piano accents. As the melody continues, Metal bursts are added, but they too then hold their peace to let clean verses come into the spotlights. Andy then sings in a more solemn way. The music and singing combined make it a song to give power, to give you strength for each battle you have to fight. The musical contrast between the melodic input of the piano and symphonic elements versus the power of Metal comes out well here. The solo moment is again well done and BRAINSTORM show this is still a point they’re very good at.
“Still Insane” is a simple Rock song. It’s got clean vocals, which again sound rather whiney. The melodic chorus sounds more voluminous thanks to the atmospheric backing. In general, the melodies are simple, but catchy. It’s an easy-listening song that’s good for when you’re on the road. “Dark Life” on the other hand brings back the Metal to the album and if you’re familiar with BRAINSTORM, then it’s easy to tell the similarities between this song and “Highs Without Lows” from the “Soul Temptation” album (2003). It’s got the same rhythm, the same tempo, similar verses, but a different chorus and different vocal lines. Sadly the production is not the same either. I found it on “Soul Temptation” quite to very good. The solo part is well done and contains heavy countering or popwer adding by the rhythm guitar and drums.
“No Saint – No Sinner” begins with fast riffing and so you cannot think otherwise then that the speed will be present. It’s indeed an uptempo rocker of a song, but the production is not as good as before. The music sounds too plastic, too compressed. The solo is not bad, but it’s rushed and simplistic compared to previous efforts. Luckily there’s “Where Your Actions Lead You To Live” to raise the bar again. It’s also a simple song, but reminds of the golden 1980s. It’s not as heavy as the previous songs, as it relies more on catchy vocal lines and melodies. The riffing reminded me of another song, though not a BRAINSTORM one. I just fail to put a title and band to it. In any case, it’s a highlight, so no need to dwell on trivial things. Sadly, though, the last two tracks are not part of the highlights list, in my personal opinion. “A Life On Hold” has an acoustic intro, after which midtempo double-bass melodic Power Metal kicks in, in typical BRAINSTORM style. Heavy verses, melody in the chorus, keyboards backing… the solo moment rounds it off. nice result. Not super, but better than “My Own Hell”. Here as well, you get an acoustic intro followed by slow Metal. It’s almost a power ballad. Symphonic backing helps to create the right atmosphere. There’s a spoken part in which Andy tries to sound demonic. And how evil it sounds! Sorry, no, it doesn’t.
Long story short, after the rather disappointing “Memorial Roots”, I find “On The Spur Of The Moment” a step in the right direction again, although I’ve got mixed feelings about this release. The production is good, but where’s Achim Köhler? He helped give BRAINSTORM their heavy and typical sound. Sure, the BRAINSTORM of 2011 still sounds like BRAINSTORM, only less powerful. The band made a fairly solid album, no doubt about that. But on a whole, it’s just not as strong as the albums before and including “Liquid Monster” (2005). Maybe the new material will come out better on stage, something I hope to witness as the band comes to Belgium.
- Below The Line
- In The Blink Of An Eye
- Temple Of Stone
- In These Walls
- Still Insane
- Dark Life
- No Saint – No Sinner
- Where Your Actions Lead You To Live
- A Life On Hold
- My Own Hell
Andy B. Franck – vocals
Torsten Ihlenfeld – guitars
Milan Loncaric – guitars
Antonio Ieva – bass
Dieter Bernert – drums