Nevermind the freaky ghoulish creatures behind the curtains... the music inside will make you a proud Brainiac.
Power Metal is a subgenre of Heavy Metal that was first introduced by Helloween back in the mid-'80s. Their classic breakout album, Walls of Jericho, was a defining moment, and it paved the way for many other bands (predominantly European) to follow in the years since. While there are many, many active Power Metal bands out there today, not all of them are capable of executing the sound effectively. Another problem is there are far too many copycats floating around. That is, many bands just try to imitate what the others are doing, and that gets real old, real fast. Luckily, Germany's Brainstorm don't fall into this trap, and they never really have. They've walked a pretty straight line since their 1997 debut, Hungry.
Now, nearly twenty years later, Brainstorm have dished out album #11, Scary Creatures, and like its predecessors, it stays pretty genuine to the subgenre. Surprisingly enough, it only took a year and a half since 2014's Firesoul for the band to compose, record and release this one. That's impressive, considering the average turnover time between albums is two to three years. Overall, Scary Creatures doesn't break into new territory, but what it does do is showcase Brainstorm's ability to continue their aggressive playing style, and at the same time, refine certain musical elements to make this a solid release.
Opening track The World to See starts off with some orchestral concerto-style sounds before launching into a crushing tune filled with pounding double-kick, edgy guitars and strong vocals (courtesy of frontman Andy B. Franck). Nice solo by lead guitarist Torsten Ihlenfeld too. How Much Can You Take is a descent followup, with its steady, mid-paced tempo. However, it isn't until the back-to-back pair of We Are and Where Angels Dream that the album really comes alive. We Are features some great guitar riffing (nice distortion too) thanks to Milan Loncaric; and Ihlenfeld, and the latter gets the pistons pumping into high speed action. These are definitely two of the best on the album. Twisted Ways also impresses with its galloping rhythm, as does Take Me to the Never with its straight-forward Rock beat and sludgy guitar work. Closer Sky Among the Clouds also shines brightly as another stand-out track. The guitar riffing carries the song through effortlessly, and another nice touch is Franck's occasional grunting, which is akin to Dave Mustaine's growlish vocals in Megadeth's Sweating Bullets.
The World to See
Brainstorm haven't been around as long as veteran bands like Helloween, Gamma Ray, and Blind Guardian, but that's irrelevant when it comes to their capabilities as musicians. At the same time, they're definitely not new kids on the block either. They have built a pretty tightly-knit outfit over the last few decades, and the fact that they're still going strong is an achievement in and of itself. Scary Creatures is fairly consistent throughout, despite a few scattered lukewarm areas that could have been spiced up a bit. The production quality is great, the songs are beefy, and the band members work well together in both composition and performance. All in all, Scary Creatures is another worthy entry into Brainstorm's catalogue, and that should make both the band and fans happy.
Images courtesy of AFM Records.