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On The Spur Of The Moment is the latest release from Brainstorm, and thus will conclude the rewind. It has been fun, and I hope the readers have enjoyed reading as much as I have writing. Enough of the sap though, this is Brainstorm, and this is serious business!
Much like how I feel about Liquid Monster, I reckon On The Spur Of The Moment is a typical release from the band. I think after the slight division of opinion concerning Memorial Roots the band decided to play it safe and by the book. In itself, I don’t see that as a bad thing, as on their ninth full-length the band show everything they do well and cut back on a lot of the filler found in Liquid Monster.
Probably the best thing about On The Spur Of The Moment is what I just hinted at in the last paragraph; the album, whilst undeniably safe for the band, it doesn’t feature much in the way of filler. All the songs are good, although there are a few better than others. For the most part though this is just Brainstorm letting it all hang out. In a way the album has a similar feel to Downburst, as On The Spur of the Moment feels complete, although in direct comparison to Downburst the material isn’t as strong.
The best moments on this release would have to be housed in tracks such as the brilliant “In These Walls” which is without a doubt the highlight and stands as one of the band’s ultimate numbers. Largely ballad-esque and introspective, a melancholic piano piece drives the track, especially the chorus and is absolute magic. “Dark Life” does a good job at kicking up some of that aggressive Brainstorm magic, and shows the band still have teeth many years after their creation. “Where Your Actions Lead You To Live” is another corker of a fast paced number, and it wouldn’t have surprised me to hear this song featured on Metus Mortis or even Soul Temptation. Rounding out the highlights would have to be “My Own Hell” which starts out in ballad format but develops into a monster sounding like a long lost track from Downburst.
On The Spur Of The Moment only really suffers in the sense that it isn’t as good as the last two albums, however it’s definitely a slight more enjoyable than Ambiguity and as much as it pains me to say, even Liquid Monster. Similar to the all encompassing magic of Downburst this would be a good introduction to the band if you can spot it for a good price. The bonus of starting with On The Spur Of The Moment first would be that if you do enjoy this album, you can rest assured that there are a load of brilliant albums to visit in their back catalogue. Until next time Brainstorm, stay forever awesome!
Germany’s Brainstorm has been a band who been quite impressive and consistent in recent years; climbing the metal ladder at a furious pace and quickly becoming one the more well known melodic power/progressive metal bands in Europe. With previous excellent albums such as ‘Soul Temptation’, ‘Downburst’, ‘Liquid Monster’ and ‘Memorial Roots’, Brainstorm’s last 10 year patch has been very successful. Led by massively underrated and unique vocalist, Andy B. Franck, Brainstorm released their 9th full-length album called ‘On The Spur Of The Moment’ back in September 2011. Once again, the new CD is up to par with previous discs, showing Brainstorm’s maturity, creativity and professionalism.
Shortly after the release of ‘Memorial Roots’, Brainstorm’s previous label (Metal Blade) released a 2-CD best-of compilation, featuring classic hits and bonus tracks from the band’s many years and albums during their time at the label. If that wasn’t enough to keep diehard fans happy, there was also the latest (and final) album from Franck’s other band, Symphorce (‘Unrestricted’), which was released in 2010; and IMO their best album of the seven released. It is just unfortunate that Franck decided to pull the plug on Symphorce, however it’s understandable considering Brainstorm is far more popular band and therefore needed to concentrate solely on it.
‘On The Spur Of The Moment’ continues Brainstorm’s recent trend of successful albums, containing more hard-hitting, fierce guitar riffs and dark-tinged and brooding vocals from Franck. Brainstorm’s signature sound also contains wonderful melodies and slight prog metal influences that feature prominently in their slower songs and also their lengthier tracks. I always tend to compare Brainstorm with another great melodic power/prog band, Circle II Circle (however slightly heavier than CIIC), and fans of that band should be well aware of Brainstorm’s presence in the metal community.
Aside from Andy B. Franck being the face of the band and leading the charge with his spine-tingling dark vocals, you also have to mention guitarists Torsten Ihlenfeld and Milan Loncaric. Both the only original members of the band (established in 1989), Ihlenfeld and Loncaric are exceptional guitarists who are often overlooked and underrated. Their powerful style is unmistakable, with deep power chords and precise and swift riff bursts on those short but sweet tracks that the band is known for. Sometime inaudible with metal bands is the volume and affect of the bass guitar, however Brainstorm make full use and the bass guitar is used in a one-two punch with the lead and rhythm guitars, to make for a stronger and complete sound.
While the latest disc is everything we expect from Brainstorm, some of their songs happen to be little lack-lustre, which is a tad disappointing, but overall the consistency is still around the same level as their previous couple of albums, albeit missing maybe 1 or 2 killer tracks. Some may consider the sound of the album to have a rushed feel, but I feel that the song-writing was missing that little something that would have otherwise made this CD one of Brainstorm’s best to date. All is not lost and ‘On The Spur Of The Moment’ is still a very good release. Those who enjoyed any of Brainstorm’s previous works, all the way back to ‘Soul Temptation’ should have no hesitations in snapping this one up as well.
A few of the kick ass tracks that feature on the album include the swift and powerful “Temple Of Stone”, while “No Saint – No Sinner” is quite catchy, heavy and melodic; containing bold and vigorous riffs to keep your head banging in approval. The infectious grooves of the hard-hitting “Still Insane” would easily be a fan favourite; with Franck’s vocals both melodic and broodish, while “Dark Life” contains catchy melodies and a memorable sing-a-long chorus to go with its hammering guitar riffs. Also worth mentioning would be the melodic “In the Blink of an Eye” and the crushing and pulsating “A Life On Hold”. There is also a limited edition digipak version of the album that contains two bonus tracks and well worth hunting down if you can get it.
For Brainstorm fans, the slight dip in quality should not matter to whether you get it or not, as overall the album is still quite good. A few more spins are required this time round however, but there’s still everything you want in a Brainstorm album – heaviness, melody, catchiness and Franck’s significant vocals. Maybe not as polished and creative as ‘Memorial Roots’ or ‘Liquid Monster’; ‘On The Spur Of The Moment’ is an album that melodic power metal fans can still sink their teeth into and get a lot out of. In the end though, it shows that Brainstorm are still holding their own and sitting towards the top of that vast pool of talented melodic power metal bands.
Originally written for www.themetalforge.com
Brainstorm turns averageness and solidity into an artform. Few other bands in the world can consistently put out B-grade power metal albums and somehow also be so entertaining at it. I haven’t heard all their albums but the ones I have heard are a lot of fun. And the thing is, they’re fun completely in spite of being really average and workmanlike. There is nothing about this band that would ever lead me to proclaim them masters of their art. They just sort of do what they do – they make stupidly catchy, riffy and straightforward metal with no bells and whistles. Andy Franck’s bellowing midrange combined with the stodgy brick-like riffs and catchy choruses makes for one hell of a meat-and-potatoes formula. It just kinda works.
This one, On the Spur of the Moment, is yet another album of theirs that does exactly what I just said in the first paragraph. In fact there’s almost no need to even continue the review, as I’ve basically described their sound as much as I need to, but the fact is, I really like this band. Their averageness is commendable because they’re so solidified in it. They can’t write a bad song! Sure, they’ll never write a great song either, but who cares about that when you have such a fun sound anyway? Songs like “In the Blink of an Eye,” “Dark Life,” “Still Insane” and the driving “Where Your Actions Lead You to Live” are just a helluva lot of fun. They don’t do so well at the slow songs, with opener “Below the Line” and “In These Walls” being among the less engaging tracks on offer, but they do have one rock-solid hit with closer “My Own Hell,” which is a grinding down-tempo number with the best chorus on the whole album. Killer.
Andy Franck sounds great as usual, and the production is beefy and hard-assed as hell. This is less epic than their previous album Memorial Roots but also less streamlined than Downburst, and overall there are less weak spots here than on either album. It’s a kind of comfortable middle-of-the-road sort of affair that becomes entertaining simply because of how much fire the band puts into their B-grade music. I don’t think they have any higher aspirations but bashing out their music with conviction and power. It’s just really nice to have bands like this that don’t try to be something they’re not and don’t bullshit around with nonsense in attempts to branch out. Brainstorm is the old faithful of power metal, and paradoxically they turn uninspiringness and average songwriting into something a lot more fun than it has any right to be. Go get this now.