Sunday, June 1, 2014

Brainstorm - Firesoul (Limited Edition)

Firesoul (Limited Edition)
AFM Records

If there’s one word that sums up Brainstorm’s output over the last seventeen years, it would be consistent. Although the German power metal outfit has occasionally experimented outside of its comfort zone, it has to be said that the band have yet to release an album that would be considered a complete disaster. Following on from 2011’s ‘On The Spur Of The Moment’, the five piece outfit (Comprising of ex-Ivanhoe/Symphorce vocalist Andy B. Franck, guitarists/backing vocalists Torsten Ihlenfeld and Milan Loncaric, bassist Antonio Ieva and drummer Dieter Bernert) are back with tenth full-length effort ‘Firesoul’.
According to the band, 2014 marks the band’s twenty-fifth anniversary, even though the band didn’t officially release their first album until 1997 (‘Hungry’). While some may debate the merits of the band’s anniversary, there’s no denying that ‘Firesoul’ is a worthy release to mark the occasion – especially in light of the direction the band took their sound over the last few releases.
The band gets the album underway in a particularly heavy fashion with the opening track ‘Erased By The Dark’, which is everything you would expect from Brainstorm, and then some! Franck is in exceptional form in terms of projecting power and offering soaring melodies, while the band pounds out some meaty riffs and driving rhythms to compliment the vocal efforts. The subtle keyboard orchestration (Delivered by long-time keyboard contributor Michael ‘Miro’ Rodenberg) adds an epic touch to proceedings, which only adds to the song’s overall powerful sound.
The title track ‘Firesoul’ is an instant favourite with its riff driven framing and Franck’s incredible melodies (The dual vocals Franck provides on this track are really impressive), while follow-up efforts ‘Descendants Of The Fire’, ‘Shadowseeker’, ‘Feed Me Lies’ and the darker toned ‘What Grows Inside’ represent some faster paced songs that boast the classic Brainstorm sound that fans have come to expect from the band over the years.
On the moodier and slower side of things, Brainstorm are no less potent, with the traditional metal anthem ‘Entering Solitude’, the outstanding ‘The Chosen’ (Which again sees the use of keyboard orchestration to give the song an epic feel) and the soaring melodic power of the album closer ‘...And I Wonder’ all showcasing a real return to form for Brainstorm on their tenth album.
In fact the only track that didn’t sit all that well with me was ‘Recall The Real’, which is a good song, but hindered with some rather awkward choral vocal efforts from Franck.
As mentioned above, this is a review for the limited edition version of ‘Firesoul’, which comes with an additional two tracks on the first disc. The first is ‘Disappeared’, which is an O.K. sounding faster paced track, but falls short on hitting the mark on the chorus front. The second effort is ‘Strangled’, which is a great track with its heavy riffing, dark vibe and powerful melodies. Although the feel of the song wouldn’t have fit perfectly with the album as a whole, as a bonus, it’s certainly a worthy track to seek out.
The limited edition version of ‘Firesoul’ also comes with a bonus live disc entitled ‘…12 Moments To Remember - Live At The BYH!?’, which as the title suggests, is an official live bootleg recording of the band’s 2011 performance from the renown German festival Bang Your Head!.
Anyone who’s been fortunate enough to catch the band playing live (Or has otherwise seen their live D.V.D. ‘Honey From The B’s (Beasting Around The Bush)’ from 2007), will know that Brainstorm can deliver on stage what they do on album, and this recording is no exception. Although the whole disc is of great quality, highlights include ‘Hollow Hideaway’, ‘Shiva’s Tears’, ‘All Those Words’ and ‘How Do You Feel’.
Brainstorm have always been a consistent and solid act, even if the band’s last few releases have seen the band stray a little from the sound that fans have hailed as the band’s true sound. But with ‘Firesoul’, the band have returned to form in a major way, and given fans an album that’s sure to be hailed as one of their finest since 2005’s ‘Liquid Monster’.

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© Justin Donnelly

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