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With all the fuckery that Freedom Call has been slavishly engaging in these days, it's easy to forget that they were once a pretty good band, pushing out great albums like this one. Eternity was their third album, and while basically all it does is shamelessly rip off 80s Helloween, I find it quite enjoyable. It is good shameless ripping-off, done with a lot of class and heart, and a whole lot of youthful energy to boot. This was Freedom Call's musical peak, and although they had more creativity before this, I actually think this is one of the very best "feel good" Power Metal albums ever penned down. Just stellar all around. But enough about that, let's dig into the music itself:
Eternity is crafted from a very typical and generic Power Metal base, offering absolutely nothing new or fresh to the genre except a collection of great songs, and if a band can do that right, then they at least have some talent, I say. The album pretty much runs through all of the stereotypes, with big, mid-paced anthems, speedy, double-bass-driven kickers, ballads and the whole deal. The reason this is such a good album is that Freedom Call are just doing what they do best; peddling out enjoyable and high-flying Power Metal with enough charisma and energy to rock the entire world if they tried. Everything just sort of fits into place, with no real clinkers at all - even the closing ballad "Turn Back Time" is a steady grower!
There's just no shortage of great songs on here. The opening "Metal Invasion" isn't amazing, but it sets the mood and grooves mightily with a choir-infested romp that will whisk you away to a land of dragons and rings and spells like no other. "Flying High" and "Ages of Power" are the fastest songs on here, with chorus hooks that will knock your teeth out, and then the catchy "Land of Light" is just a lot of fun, a real spirit lifter if there ever was one. All of these songs are about as addictive as caffeine, and just as energizing and motivating, too, although they might not burn you out after the effect wears off. "Bleeding Heart" is a very nice ballad, with some great hooks and shamelessly 80s-like synths and melodies, but the real good stuff comes later on.
Just listen to "Flame in the Night," with its atmospheric keys and huge, hymn-like chorus - stellar! And how about "Island of Dreams"? This song kills, with one of the best, most triumphant Power Metal choruses ever, and that is saying a lot. Just listen to that great hook, how it soars right up to the clouds and then settles there, matching the sun with its radiance. "Eyes of the World" is a riveting, colorful jaunt with a truly mesmerizing hook, and then "Warriors" takes the prize for best on here, I think, as it is by far the catchiest, and that anthemic feel really brings it up a notch. The completely awesome choir chant in the middle really seals the deal, too; it's just something you'll have to hear to witness. Freedom Call didn't really do anything groundbreaking here, but they did make an enjoyable album that I find myself coming back to again and again, and for that I can recommend it wholeheartedly.
Written for http://www.metalcrypt.com
I have never come this close to giving a perfect rating for any album in the power metal genre, because I believe that even with all the bands out there who are milking the style, I don't believe it's fullest potential has yet been reached. But boy does this album stand right at the gates of perfection. In my view, this is one that most acts today can't hold a candle to. Here is the breakdown of the individual tales in this grand epic.
Metal Invasion - Freedom Call breaks with tradition again by placing their long epic at the beginning rather than the middle of the album. The opening choral line is a Latin text that bares some resemblence to what was probably chanted to Crusaders by Monks before they went into battle. Fitting considering the spellbinding harmony and counterpoint drawn from the different voice groups. What follows is a flurry of speed that leaves most power metal cookers in the dust, dueling guitar riffs that walk the razor's edge upon being almost too fast to comprehend. A melodic guitar solo and a fine job by vocalist Chris Bay.
Flying High - Probably the craziest drum intro I've ever heard Dan Zimmerman perform, rivaling the work he did on the song "Starborn" by Iron Savior. The guitar intro occurs only once, and seems to hint on a looming conflict. What follows is a series of transitions that keep the tempo solidly fast.
Ages of Power - This is the first album by Freedom Call where 3 speed songs have been front loaded onto the album, but it makes sense considering that this is to be the grand final struggle in the saga. This is also a somewhat experimental song as well, particularly apparent during the brief black metal section occuring right after the guitar solo. It's a pity this song is never performed live, although seeing that asking an extra vocalist to come on tour for one song is probably a good justification for not doing it.
The Spell - A short yet very interesting prelude to the next track, and also the long awaited intro theme that the band could enter the stage to. Gamma Ray and Iron Savior got theirs taken care of on the first album, looks like Freedom Call was too busy writing great songs to get to it until just now.
Bleeding Heart - This is the first time that Freedom Call has written a love ballad, sounding at times almost like Survivor. In most cases I'd say that this shouldn't be done by metal acts because it might bother their audience, but they pull it off quite nicely. Some really nice acoustic and electric guitar work here, in addition to some amazing synth themes. You can't break the sound barrier with every song, and since you have to write some slower stuff, it might as well be one like this.
Warriors - This is probably the best mid-tempo song I've heard, starting with yet another amazing vocal intro, followed by a dramatic change in feel after wards. Simple yet memorable guitar solo matched by good even vocal lines. An instant classic.
Eyes of the World - The speed returns, but not before a nicely placed intro by a clever mixture of synth timbres. This is probably my favorite Freedom Call song next to "The Quest". This is also Chris Bay's finest moment as a lead guitarist if you ask me. This one is destined to become a standard in Freedom Call concerts just as the song bearing the bands name has.
Flame in the Night - Another slow one that is a bit dramatic, starting with a very dreary low bass drone accompanied by a down tuned guitar. This song features some excellent singing on Chris' part, and a nice amount of synth work. The lead guitar dominated much of the earlier half of the album, now we see it fade into the background for a time.
Land of Light - Alot of people knock this song because of the repeating synth theme, comparing it to Europe's the final countdown. I know it's considered heresy to consider yourself a true metal head and like that song, but I do, so may the gods of metal whom ordaned the self-righteous champions of sudo-true metal strike me down for it (sarcastic). This song is obviously excellent for live shows because of it's memorable chorus and high spirited lyrics. My only complaint is that there is no guitar solo.
Island of Dreams - This is an excellent song that seems to have been overlooked by many. But the lead guitar work on here is excellent, creating a fine web of harmonies that paint a hopeful picture of an impending victory. The lyrics are on the mark, the drumming is fast and furious, and Chris Bay is at the top of his game leading a huge choir through another memorable set of chorus lines.
Turn Back Time - This is a different side of Freedom Call, another ballad with an extremely acoustic, to the point of being folkish song. It departs from the Taragon story as Bleeding Heart did, which leaves me wondering whether Ramzul succeeded and Island of Dreams is his final destination as a hero, or if Freedom Call still has left the tale unfinished. But this is a good song, not to be mistaken with the track by Cher that carries the same name. The only unfortunate thing is that Freedom Call has a habit of picking song names that have already been used, but maybe I'm being a little unreasonable, it's the song that counts.
In conclusion, a must have for any power metal fan, I don't care how broke you are. Hold off on getting the latest PowerQuest or Dragonforce album until your next pay check, this is the one to have. If Freedom Call keeps this up Gamma Ray may have to get their act together and release another album before hell freezes over, and Blind Guardian might do well to get their musical act together on their next album.
Wow, as much as I enjoy this album, it definitely falls into the category of music that you would listen to (and enjoy) by yourself, but would be mortified if anyone you know ever caught you listening to it (E.g. Hearts - Desire walks on). I have no qualms about power metal, or cheese, or any combination of the two. I like to think I listen to metal more for the atmosphere and riffage rather than some profoundly evil, otherworldly, poetically blahbably lyrics. Judged by that merit, Eternity is an awesome album, almost every song is so catchy that I still find them in my head after going a week or 2 without touching this album. Top-notch vocals complimented on many of the songs by emotional chorus's that almost make you want to jump up and sing about giving praise to the metal invasion. The songs are fast and nothing drags on. Clean sounding guitars are almost a standard with power metal, and the dead on playing wouldn't let even the pickiest down. Drums are nicely hidden in the background, with occasional appearances by a piano and what sounds to be some form of trumpet. No real problems, these guys are definitely talented musicians, and a joy to listen to.
Speaking of joy brings me back to the cheese factor, which I feel needs addressing seeing that even thought this IS a power metal album, the overly happy sound is by far the most prominent feature of this album (very catchy songs coming in a close second). Take Manowar, full of cheesy goodness, but they still retain a bit of a rough edge that makes songs about gods making heavy metal a bit easier to enjoy. Comparing the aforementioned Gods of true metal to Freedom is like comparing a fuzzy naval to a glass of Donald Duck brand OJ. Both are fruity, but one has bite. Whether or not you will love or loathe this album basically boils down to how much you can tolerate such soft vocals.
The cover artwork is pretty decent, really sets the mood for the album (basically a winged statue illuminating a cave filled with a huddled mass of worshippers). Not too sure why they felt that Eternity was such a clever name that they had to repeat it on the cover not once, or twice, but three times. I'm sure they had their reasons. Unfortunately the insides of the albums booklet are filled with a group portrait that screams homo. Subsequent pictures of various band members sitting in odd poses, trying their best to look like they are in some sort of deep thought, or wondering why the photographer keeps winking at them. Great, much better than an almost neked chick or dragon, or even better, both. Hell, I could even handle a zombie or hobbit as long as they pay their due respects to skin, namely bikini or scaly. Why there isn't an effort to make the insides of a CD booklet even remotely interesting is beyond me. Take Iron Maidens DoD for example, awesome ghosts grace the photos of the band members inside the booklet, making the booklet something more interesting than a simple listing of the lyrics. I think its called atmosphere, something every power metal band tries their best to achieve. Oh, and the songs listed in the booklet have little bearing to the order in which they appear on the CD, sloppy.
Ignoring the lyrics, the overall feel of the album is very cheery and uplifting. I always feel pretty good after the semi epic riffs start flowing, and the vocals fit flawlessly with the guitars. It seems pretty natural and nothing really feels out of place (other than the instance when they try and evil growl on Aces of Power). Nothing on here has me reaching for the skip track button. Hard for me to pick a favorite, but a great example of what the band has to offer is Warriors. The song sets out at a quick pace, and with a nice, almost Celtic sounding guitar pushing the song along. The only real downfall is most of the music seems to be chorus based vocals, too many of the songs end up sounding similar.
The two tracks that don't seem to fit onto the album (even though that's a bit of a stretch, most of the songs sound like a continuation of the previous one) are Turn back time, and Bleeding Heart. Both can probably best be described as overly long, overly emotional, wanky little metal love songs. Not a bad listen, but just not quite up to the feel of the rest of the album.
Hell, while I'm at it, I’ll list some of the lines off one of the tracks just to prepare you for what you're in store for, keep in mind the songs are still great to listen to.
Can you see my bleeding heart,
Can you heal my heart
We shared a life, a world of lies
You are gone, no reason to cry
When I believed yin you and me,
In all you words
Of love and harmony
When our love began
I gave you my hand
There's still my bleeding heart
Pretty touching stuff, I can only hope he's singing it with a woman (or at the very least, a dragon) in mind, rather than a fellow band member.
If you can stomach Gouda with a side of catchy power metal, you'll love this album, highly recommended. If you find the thought of metal love songs and warriors of light disturbing, you'll never enjoy this album to any degree. Steer clear.