|Review: Brainstorm - Memorial Roots|
Label: AFM Records
Year released: 2009
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: September 16, 2009
Reviewed by: Christopher Foley
Rated 3.85/5 (77.04%) (27 Votes)
Lesson of the day; repeated listens are a good thing. Had you asked my thoughts on this after my first listen I would probably have told you that this was pretty average 2/5 material. Fortunately, I am quite a big fan of Brainstorm and I owed it to myself to give this album more of a chance. It seems the main thing that put me off is that the album opens with a mid-pacer, something quite unusual for Brainstorm – normally they destroy us with an ass kicker (see "Highs Without Lows" or "Falling Spiral Down"). Another niggling point is that the guitar tone on this album is a little thinner than usual, resulting in the guitars losing some of their thunderous edge. However counter balancing this are a few good points. Firstly, their songs have an extreme injection of melody – more so than usual, Andy. B. Franck sounds incredible as ever, some of his harmony arrangements are intense – the guy really is a pro at this. For once we don't have a track I'd class as filler, which marks a first for the band. The album flows brilliantly and all the tracks boast something of merit. I listened to this album back to back three times and it just got better.
Opener "Forsake What You Believe" stands as the weakest track on offer, although I wouldn't say it was a bad track – the intro is a really good idea and has a truly epic sound – I'm particularly fond of the subtle keys and programming work; it's all handled very tastefully. "Shiver" is the first ass-kicker; a fresh sound for Brainstorm. The main riff is pretty sweet and has that too hard rock to be metal, but too metal to be hard rock feel to it. "The Conjunction of the 7 Planets" is one of those epic mid-paced powerful metal cuts, the chorus is highly melodic and is the first amazing chorus of the album. The last five tracks here are where everything is at though: the orient flavorings to "Ahimsa" work well with Brainstorm's speedier sound, and "Victim" is another fully-blown ass-kicker. "The Final Stages of Decay" is another of the more epic numbers the pre-chorus is immense – Andy's vocal lines are nothing short of fantastic. "Would You" is my personal favorite here, I think this track speaks the most about what the album offers, blending the fine structure of tracks such as "The Conjunction of the 7 Planets" the heaviness of tracks such as "Cross the Line" and of course the brilliant choruses on offer all throughout Memorial Roots. The icing on the cake really is the last chorus of this track, heavier and at an accelerated pace.
So it proves some things just take a little more attention to click. I'm happy I put in the time to appreciate this as there is some nice material to be found here. It seems powerful metal seems to be the new black in the Power Metal camp, with a load of acts calming the double bass and churning out these hook-laden heavier efforts – Brainstorm have been championing this sound for years. Whilst not as good as previous efforts, this is a worthy addition to the Brainstorm discography – sad thing is the weaker guitar tone really hurts things here. In Fact I think that if Brainstorm were to iron out the issues in the sound of this release we'd be on to something special – I can't express how much this issue affects the overall enjoyment and the final score I gave this, although I would imagine these songs to kick ass in a live setting. Brainstorm fans should pick this up without hesitation – remember time is the key to enjoyment here. Fans of acts such as Symphorce, Angel Dust, Red Circuit, Nocturnal Rites, or Manimal would certainly do well to check this out.
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