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While power metal band Brainstorm is riding the wave of recent successes, particularly with their latest CD 'Memorial Roots', the band's vocalist Andy B. Franck has been working hard (and with far less success) with his other band, the lesser known Symphorce.
Symphorce was created by Franck back in 1998, before he joined Brainstorm in 1999 and managed to work and co-exist in both bands ever since. So while he has achieved growing success and popularity with Brainstorm since joining, Symphorce on the other hand had unfortunately not moved in the same direction. 'Unrestricted' is Symphorce's 7th full-length album and it is also their first release under the AFM Records banner, after their previous 4 CDs with Metal Blade and their first 2 with Noise. The remainder of Symphorce's line-up includes guitarists Cedric C. Dupond (ex-Freedom Call) and Markus Pohl (Mystic Prophecy), drummer Steffen Theurer (ex-Chinchilla), and bassist Dennis Wohlbold.
Reviews for Symphorce's previous releases around the net have been quite erratic, with a few somewhat positive, however also a few more quite negative. Overall there is a general consensus throughout all the reviews; that there's something missing in the band's sound that would lift them out of the shadows and separate them from the plethora of mediocre power metal bands currently around.
I believe that Symphorce have finally found that "missing something" with their latest release, 'Unrestricted'. On the disc, the band have really improved quite a lot from previous CDs and have found their own niche in the melodic power metal genre. In reviews of the band's previous discs, writers have commented that Symphorce were trying to sound like Nevermore, but on 'Unrestricted' I must say that I cannot hear a Nevermore presence. I do hear vague similarities with Franck's main band Brainstorm, but ultimately it seems that Symphorce have finally found their own sound. Not much these days is considered new or fresh in the power metal genre, and that applies here, but overall, the sound on 'Unrestricted' is material you've heard before, but it shouldn't be a reason not to enjoy it.
While the melodic power metal swings to a more Americanised style rather than European, 'Unrestricted' features crunching guitar riffs, powerful grooves and melody, memorable choruses and another solid gold vocal performance by Andy B. Franck. The tracks aren't all that speedy and they pretty much stay in the mid-pace tier; but there is quite a lot of diversity on the album which is another big plus.
The best two tracks on 'Unrestricted' are both the opening melodic scorcher "The Eternal" (which is reminiscent of Brainstorm) and the final track on the disc "Do You Ever Wonder". The final track is just fantastic, containing wicked groove metal riffs, pounding drumming and aggressive sounding vocals. With a kick ass chorus, the track is a brilliant way to end the album. There aren't that many guitar solos on the disc, but the majority of the tracks are structured in a way where they are not really needed. With that being said, I personally would have liked a few blistering solos in there to make this release even better.
"Until it's Over" is another top track, with a memorable chorus which sticks in your head; while "Worlds Seem To Collide" is an emotional rockin' track with Franck again the standout. "Sorrow in Our Hearts" is a melodic winner, which has a great low end guitar riff that just forces you to bang your head; while "Whatever Hurts" has Sinner's signature sound written all over it, again quite melodic with another driving riff. In the end, all 10 tracks on the release are very good and there are no weak songs to be found whatsoever.
After spinning this CD quite a few times, I was immediately hooked and found it hard to believe that their earlier releases were stated as being sub-par. Symphorce has worked extremely hard on this album and their dedication stands out enormously. The band has turned a corner with 'Unrestricted' and that title couldn't be any more accurate as Symphorce sound like they had been given a great deal of creative freedom. Needless to say, the end result is exceptional and in my opinion 'Unrestricted' is Symphorce's best release to date.
I was pleasantly surprised by this album, after only expecting just a "ho-hum" release going by the reviews of previous releases. I urge anyone who is a fan of melodic power metal in the same vein as Brainstorm and Circle II Circle who may have discarded Symphorce in the past, to give 'Unrestricted' a good listen and hopefully change your mind about them. Take a bow guys, you have definitely earned it.
Originally written for www.themetalforge.com