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Cosmic Anomaly - 42%

Empyreal, March 3rd, 2010

After being nearly destroyed by the awful musical nuclear bomb that was Dimensions, Empyreal regrouped in a molecular fashion in the far end of the cosmos…three years later, at the exact time of the release of Freedom Call’s next album. He gaped in horror as the abomination hovered closer, radiating with such a terrible animosity…would this finally be the end of him? No more reviews or fun times to be had? Football season was over. All the cheerleaders had hung up their pom-poms and were going back home through the snow. Was this really it? It felt so anti-climactic…

Ahem. So this is the latest exploitation of metal from bullshit artists Freedom Call, consistent only in their quest to never be consistent in their music. I mean, what is this band trying to do? Ever since Eternity they’ve been stumbling around tripping over their own instruments, apparently trying to be “artsy” or something. Nothing they’ve done in the last few albums has sounded anything like the album before it. It’s like how a kid will crumple up a sheet of drawing paper after he messes up too many times, starting over. But that isn’t enough to sum up this conundrum of confounding confusion – let’s just listen to Legend of the Shadowking and get this all over with.

Freedom Call mostly just need direction – badly, if I might add. This album is at least not as annoying as Dimensions, but it really doesn’t seem to go anywhere. They experiment a bit with some darker motifs and heavier songs, but they also seem to be trying to write stuff like their early material again. Which one is it, guys? Which one is it? Opener “Out of the Ruins” is just kind of there, with a catchy chorus backed up by some of the lightest, most transparent music I’ve ever heard that could still be called ‘metal.’ I mean…this is just so wimpy that I can’t believe it. It’s not bad, but it certainly isn’t something I’d consider very powerful. Since, you know, this is Power Metal after all!

Then “Thunder Gods” comes up, and I also kind of like this chorus, but the verses and riffs just sound so much like Helloween that it’s uncanny in the worst way. And it’s got those lame chug riffs at the end…I seriously just don’t get this band. Honestly, this is some of the most bewildering stuff ever. Nothing goes together. It’s like a bunch of parts from different puzzles put together in the same box. “Merlin – Legend of the Past” is another lightweight song with a decent chorus that I think they stole from some song in their back catalog, I can’t be sure, but it’s still about one of the better songs on here.

The only songs that even come close to being legitimately good, and standing on their own feet, are the four darker experimental tracks that the band has introduced. Starting with “Under the Spell of the Moon,” which is probably my favorite on here with its elegantly dark harmonies and foreboding crooning from the vocal front, we get a host of songs from this band that are…actually interesting and not stupid? I’m having a hard time believing it. “Dark Obsession” is a creepy, Helloween-ish romp that actually uses that influence to Freedom Call’s credit rather than just sounding like a ripoff. It’s got a pretty cool chorus and some eerie chords that sound surprisingly ominous. “The Darkness” is coolly dark and refreshing, with good riffs and menacingly dark theatrics, and the faux-title track has some of Chris Bay’s best vocals in years. Very cool.

However, the stuff surrounding these songs is just as silly, meandering and lame as anything else the band has done lately. Yeah, nice work, guys; just HAD to keep sucking, huh? “Resurrection Day” and “Tears of Babylon” are boring and poorly constructed respectively (although alright, I do find myself liking “Tears of Babylon” a little more than I care to admit…), and “Remember!” just goes nowhere at all, with a dull chorus to boot. The reprise of “Merlin” is just completely random and useless, as is the “Ludwig” thing – serves no purpose at all. All of these songs just sound like random mish-mashed demo tracks stuffed into the album just to make it longer. You had three years, guys; couldn’t you try a little harder to give us some good stuff? You already proved that you can with those four good songs I mentioned above, so what the hell? It’s seriously baffling. They sounded so fucking good on the songs I listed above, but the rest of this album is just disposable Power Metal-lite crap like everything else they’ve done since the early 00s. This makes no sense, and further proves that Freedom Call have just lost their fucking minds altogether.

And we finally hit the rock bottom I expected from this band after Dimensions with the last two abortions, as these are just terrible, and I mean terrible. Oh, good, you haven’t forgotten how to write sleazy power-rock-excrement yet; exactly what we needed. God, I wish I could just wipe this shit from my brain. “Kingdom of Madness” is full of smarmy, overly sleek riffs and a really loud, obnoxious chorus stuffed to the brim with fluffy choirs too overwrought to be entertaining at all. It’s really moments like this when I just have to look at iTunes and wonder what the fuck the band was thinking…we got fake crowd cheering, we got acoustic rock strumming, we got 80s glam vocals in the chorus…er, did I accidentally put this thing on shuffle again? Nope, this band is just plain fucked up.

“A Perfect Day” harkens back to the annoying “whoah-whoah-oh-oh” noises from “Mr. Evil,” with dumb lyrics and a shitty, jokey chorus just as bad as anything on their last album. What a load! “The biggest, the best, better than the rest”? What is this, Smash Mouth? A 90s arena rock backdrop for a baseball game? A wrestling anthem? It sure as hell doesn’t sound like lyrics I’d expect out of a Freedom Call album. Really, really stupid.

This band is just…confusing, mostly. There are only a couple moments on here I really hate, but it’s all just so jumbled and unfocused that I have a hard time even enjoying the really good moments. I think this band needs to quit trying to experiment. They are just not good at it. The most memorable parts on this end up being the bad songs, which just doesn’t bode well at all. Try again, Freedom Call; maybe that one last good album is coming up after all.