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At this point in Brainstorm’s career, the band was in serious need of an all encompassing, face-melting release. Downburst was just such a thing, and right off the mark, I would say this would be a good starting point for new fans, along with Metus Mortis or Soul Temptation. Whilst I have a soft spot for the last album, I’m willing to admit that it could have been better. Judging by a lot of the reviews I’ve read for Liquid Monster over the years it seems most people found the album to be uneven. After that release, Brainstorm took three years before unveiling their seventh full-length, and it shows. Downburst is focused, and offers just about everything anyone could want from a Brainstorm album (this side of Unholy: Part II).
The songs are all very well conceived: suitably catchy with good hooks and great choruses. The riffs are equal parts melodic catchy and skull-splitting bad-ass, and performances across the board are great. When I first heard this, I instantly placed both my thumbs in an upwards orientation, and each time I’ve listened since; both those thumbs go back up. I thought Brainstorm was surely going to continue along this line, as Downburst received some very favourable attention from their fans and the press, but that’s a tale for another day.
The cover and content of Downburst suit the album’s pugilistic feel very well, and the album infuses this punchy style with glossy melodic sensibilities which spell “win” on so many levels. Andy sounds great here, although his higher register has been slightly dulled compared to the last two albums, which is a slight of a shame. There’s little need to mention standout tracks, as the album runs its course at a constant great quality. Every last track is very good, so much so that I’m sure many would argue this being the first Brainstorm album to feature zero filler (although I would have to say Metus Mortis had this distinction).
All in all, and as I said in opening: this album is definitely one for fans new to the band. Downburst shows Brainstorm in fine form, and it has a very worthy place in the collection of any power metal aficionado.
Originally written for http://blackwindmetal.com
2008 has gone off with a bang with one of the better European metal acts, Brainstorm, releasing their 7th full-length CD, entitled ‘Downburst’. After 3 solid releases in a row (‘Metus mortis’, ‘Soul temptation’ and ‘Liquid monster’), Brainstorm have really made a name for themselves, and I myself was looking forward to reviewing their new CD.
Having a unique sound, which is unmistakable; Brainstorm pretty much stand on their own, with no real similarities with any other power metal band. That’s not to say Brainstorm’s music is original, far from it, but their slightly downtuned guitar-driven style of technical heavy/power metal with catchy and melodic riffs gives them an edge over all of the other same-sounding power metal bands that exist in the world.
Brainstorm’s sound has changed slightly over their last 2 CDs (including this one). 2003’s ‘Soul temptation’ was one of Brainstorm’s better releases. Musically, ‘Soul temptation’ sounded quite a bit more technical and creative than your typical guitar-driven power metal band; I dare to use the term “proggy” as well, in their sound. But with ‘Liquid monster’ and now with ‘Downburst’, Brainstorm have really gone back to the basics with their sound. Leading the way with catchy hooks and riffs and heavy bass guitar, their sound is more straightforward power metal than anything else. Having a more “darker” feel than most power metal bands, the voice of vocalist Andy B. Franck completely suits their sound. His emotional, dark and raspy vocals really add another dimension to their sound and improve the overall quality. 'Downburst' also seems just a little bit heavier than previous releases, especially from ‘Soul temptation’ and earlier.
As for the tracks on ‘Downburst’, I really didn’t find any average songs at all; and even the poorest song on the CD ("Surrounding walls") is still good. The CD opens with a bang with “Falling spiral down”. Once you press the play button, you hear the sound of what could be a heavy industrial machine starting up, followed by an awesome riff infused with it, rising to the heavens. A yell by Andy B. Franck and the main riff and double-bass pummelling begins. The song is quite heavy and contains a great sing-a-long chorus to go along with your fist pumping in the air. The song wouldn’t be complete without a kick-ass solo in the middle, and that’s exactly what you get.
“Fire walk with me” follows and is probably the best song on the CD. Totally guitar driven, with a chunk of heavy bass guitar and groove riffs, the track has one of the catchiest choruses on the CD, not to mention the great solo as well. “Stained with sin” is another kick-ass track, which follows “Fire walk with me”. This track is more vocal driven rather than guitar driven, Andy B. Franck’s emotional and strong vocals makes this track a standout in anyone’s language.
The 2nd best song on ‘Downburst’ is the slow pounding “End in sorrow”. Almost power ballad-esk, Andy B. Franck gives us his best vocal performance on the CD. With eerie keyboards in the background accompanied with the slow and chunky guitar riffs, Andy’s soaring and emotional vocals give this song a perfect rating and keeps me pressing the repeat button. The last of the standout tracks on ‘Downburst’ includes “How do you feel”, which sounds like your typical Brainstorm song, with melodic riffs and a catchy chorus. And finally, there is “Frozen”, which sounds quite different from any of the other tracks on the CD. The song sounds almost thrashy, where Franck’s vocals have been altered somewhat to give a darker feel. The effect is cool and makes the song standout. Another dose of heavy riffs and pounding drums can be heard, with yet another catchy chorus.
After numerous spins of ‘Downburst’, I am quite surprised by the quality of this release. I wasn’t expecting a masterpiece, but I also wasn’t expecting something average either. Overall, I am very pleased with this CD and I really like the direction Brainstorm are going in. It’s only early January and we already have a top 10 contender for best metal release of 2008.
Originally reviewed for www.metalcdratings.com (11/01/08)