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It is a pretty well established fact that I’m a devout Freedom Call fanboy, so naturally after Ilker split from the band, I was curious to see what he and Nils Neumann would come up with. Looking at the songwriting credits and seeing the musical consistency that resulted, it seems that Mr. Ersin took a lesson from the whole “The Circle Of Life” fiasco and took full control of the songwriting process. The result is something that maintains the light nature of Freedom Call’s sound, but also incorporates some of the AOR elements of bands like Masterplan, a slower overall tempo tendency, and a heavier overall sound to boot. There is a little more reliance on keyboards to fill out the arrangement due to there being only one guitarist, but everything balances out without turning too flowery.
It was expected that veteran vocalist Chitty Somapala would be fronting the band on their debut album, but after his exit from Firewind he seemed to put a greater priority on bands like Red Circuit and Civilization One, which may not have been the best judgment call considering the lukewarm reception both bands have received. Instead we are treated to metal newcomer Steffen Brunner, who sounds heavily reminiscent of higher end singers like Ben Sotto (Heavenly) and Andre Matos (ex-Angra). It is definitely an interesting variation on a style that usually calls for a deeper and harder edged voice like Jorn Lande’s, and despite Steffern’s semi-emo hairstyle, pulls off a solid performance and blends in nicely with the really low end guitar sounds.
The song formats tend mostly towards stand structures in line with AOR music, but there are a few curve balls here and there. The biggest on is right smack in the middle of the first full length song “Creatures”, where they abruptly turn off the afterburners of a solid speed section and throw in this only distantly related quiet interlude. At first it seems like the song has ended and we’re onto the next song and then that chorus chimes back in and there’s another minute or so of well produced melodic power metal to finish things off. Aside from this and a couple of techno-like sections via the keyboards here and there, this basically sticks to the basics. Actually, the guitar work out of Barish Kepic is a little more technically impressive than anything Freedom Call ever put out, particularly the solos.
Every song on here is very easy to grab onto and remember, as they draw from a series of older German acts as templates for their style. The underlying influences mostly come from Helloween in terms of chorus construction, occasionally leaning to older 80s acts that bring a hard rock flavor into the mix. Those arena anthem tendencies are on full display on “Signs In The Sand”, “Don’t Walk On Broken Glass” and “Our Melody” when their large sounding choruses kick in. Throw in a fair amount of low end riffing that seems to lean a little towards early Zakk Wylde’s work with Ozzy and you’ve got the overall character of the songs. They also pull off an interesting remake of that famed Cutting Crew hit during the whole new wave craze in the 80s, improving on the original and making it more suitable for someone who wants his speakers to rumble with loud guitar thuds when the volume is up.
It’s fairly predictable when all is said and done, but it’s a lot of fun and that is what ultimately counts with this sort of power metal. It is definitely a considerable step up from the “The Circle Of Life” and it slightly edges out Freedom Call’s latest effort as well. If this band decided to inject just a little bit more speed into their next release they will definitely have a winning formula. If you like Masterplan but think that Jorn’s vocals were just a little overbearing, this is a good alternative. Now if only Cedric Dupont and the rest of the guys in Symphorce could put out a decent album, the past lineups of Freedom Call would be unanimous successes.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on November 27, 2008.