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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.