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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