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Brainstorm - Memorial roots 4/5

Reviewed: 11-20-09


1. Forsake what I believed
2. Shiver
3. The conjunction of 7 planets
4. Cross the line
5. Nailed down dreams
6. Blood still stains
7. Ahimsa
8. The final stages of decay
9. Victim
10. When no one cares
11. Would you

One power metal band who has hit their strides and improved a hell of a lot over their last few releases, Germany’s Brainstorm, are back to continue their recent trend of great work with release #8, entitled ‘Memorial roots’.

Brainstorm first began to be noticed by the metal public around 2001 with their ‘Metus mortis’ CD, which was their 4th full-length release and quite a good one too. 2003’s ‘Soul temptation’ was ground breaking for the band and really helped them set up their popularity that they have today. The band introduced an aggressive element into their sound, whereby the songs became heavier and much harder. Brainstorm’s newfound aggressive sound continued to expand with the releases that followed, 2005’s ‘Liquid monster’ and 2008’s ‘Downburst’. Both CDs were also very good; especially ‘Downburst’, which I consider to be their most consistent and heaviest CD to date.

‘Downburst’ also marked the end of Brainstorm’s contractual tenure with Metal Blade Records. The final CD that Metal Blade has released from Brainstorm to end their business relationship is a 2-disc “best of” compilation called 'Just highs no lows (12 years of persistence)', which was released on November 9th of this year. The first disc covers all their hits over the years, while the 2nd disc is a collection of B-Sides and rarities.

Since leaving Metal Blade, Brainstorm have signed with AFM Records (which is a better suited label for them in my opinion) and ‘Memorial roots’ will be their first release under their name. The band’s sound can not be mistaken for any other metal band out there, particularly with the unique vocals of one Andy F. Franck, whose dark, brooding and emotional tones is just one reason why this band kicks ass. The powerful down-tuned guitar riffs of Torsten Ihlenfeld and Milan Loncaric send chills down your spine while at the same time making your head pound at the same time with your fist raised high in the air. Still quite technical than the majority of European power metal bands, Brainstorm’s powerful blast of heavy sound mixed with elaborate and complex songwriting and structure is indeed a winning combination and the reason why they have improved ten-fold over recent years.

‘Memorial roots’ is yet a further progression of Brainstorm’s recent sound, with the band sounding revitalised and more confident in themselves than ever before. Brainstorm have always had the knack of producing great songwriting; words that come to mind include intricate, matured, inspired and creative. ‘Memorial roots’, as expected, contains these exact qualities in its songs, making for one hell of a CD. I feel that the aggression that has been prominent on previous releases has been toned down somewhat, while now it has been infused with deliberate technical melodies. Take the track “The conjunction of 7 planets” for example. Quite soft and sombre during the verses, sounding like it was inspired by recent Iron Maiden material, the tempo rises during the bridge and chorus, while still keeping the gentle harmonic structure of the track. Lyrically powerful, the track is a great song by all means, and portrays a different side to the band; showing the many faces of Brainstorm’s remarkable songwriting.

The CD overall has quite a dark feel to it (which seems to be the case with the last few Brainstorm releases), with the lyrics bringing up feelings of despair, fear, death, anger, misery, suffering and social change; and also many frequent passages referring to our souls. These references mention the many different journeys a soul can take in life, and how the mark of a person or culture can affect their individual souls; the way we struggle with life and the way we torture ourselves and each other. Very deep and meaningful lyrics, their profoundness really making your mind tick over in constant thought.

The first half of ‘Memorial roots’ is sensational to say the least, with killer tracks like the abovementioned “The conjunction of 7 planets”, the short but strong “Shiver”, the thundering “Blood still stains”, the fast and furious “Cross the line” (which has a definite Angel Dust familiarity to it) and also the great semi-ballad “Nailed down dreams”. With the 2nd half, however, I feel does not match the first in terms of catchiness; there are some great songs like “The final stages of decay” (which has a great Nevermore sound to it), “When no one cares” and the CD closer “Would you”, but overall the 2nd half doesn’t have the same ball-grabbing attention that the first collection of songs has.

With that being said, there is no possibility that should deter anyone from grabbing this release if what you’ve read so far sounds right up your alley. ‘Memorial roots’ is another great powerful and emotion-filled CD from Brainstorm, very much on par with their previous CD ‘Downburst’. These guys have found their metal niche in the world and are unique enough sound wise to stand proudly on their own. Since 2003 they have really taken off and become one of the better power metal bands out there. Those already familiar with Brainstorm and their sound should take a hold on this release very quickly, while fans of technical European power metal should also find ‘Memorial roots’ quite entertaining and memorable. 2 thumbs up!




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