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Deep, powerful metal - 82%

Andromeda_Unchained, April 28th, 2014

I’m sure someone has tainted Germany’s water supply, as this year all of its finest metal exports have been putting out winning albums. Brainstorm joins the crowd, hurling forth Firesoul, its tenth full-length album; and certainly one of its finest to date. I’ve always found Brainstorm to be a highly dependable act, and here the band proves it in spades, doing what it does best.

The last two albums were something of a deviation from Brainstorm’s usual pummeling assault a la Downburst, and opted instead for an understated approach in both songwriting and production. I’ll be the first to tell you it worked on every level – particularly Memorial Roots – but here, Brainstorm rips the lid off and returns to doing what it did so well on albums like Metus Mortis or Soul Temptation. Expect plenty of fist banging anthems throughout, adorned with muscled guitar riffs, pounding rhythms, and Andy Franck’s ever-fantastic vocals.

This is classic Brainstorm through and through, drawing from the vast well of prior experience and blending it all together for a complete experience. The subtle orchestration which ensured Soul Temptation was such a treat returns proudly, whether booming throughout the powerhouse opening track “Erased By The Dark”, or delightfully reinforcing the melodic motifs in the ecstasy which is “Recall The Real”, a song up there with the finest Brainstorm numbers. The savage guitar attack and pulsating rhythms are kicked right back into the foreground as well, recalling Metus Mortis in punchy numbers like “Descendants Of The Fire” or the unmistakably-Brainstorm ripper “Shadowseeker”.

Whilst I can’t really say any new ground is broken here, I will say that the band’s sound has been completely reinvigorated, much like countrymen Primal Fear. However, there is a certain degree of texture to the guitars which I haven’t felt present in the band before, awarding the music a further layer of depth, complimenting the finely honed songwriting, and of course Andy’s killer vocals. Speaking of which, he’s absolutely on the money here, commanding the tracks with the power and dramatic flair they deserve. I also really like the layering he does in songs like “Feed Me Lies” or the aforementioned “Recall The Real”, again adding texture, and I feel retaining some of the elements shown in the preceding two releases – the perfect counterpoint to the towering metallic assault delivered throughout a large portion of this album.

As such, Firesoul has this kind of all-encompassing feel, and like I’ve said, it absolutely shows off everything that Brainstorm does best. For the completely uninitiated, this would be hard-edged German power metal, although a few others (including myself) like to refer to Brainstorm (among others) as “powerful” metal. Essentially a pugilistic, yet undeniably anthemic branch of the style; taking cues from Judas Priest, Dio and Metal Church in terms of structure and vocal performance, with an air of violent, thrash metal conventions present in the guitars and rhythms. Big riffs and bigger choruses are the name of the game when concerning Brainstorm.

If you’re a fan of good, involving heavy metal, then Brainstorm is seriously the band for you. The Germans provide longevity in spades, the likes of which has had me revisiting the various albums in the band’s repertoire for years both past and those to come, I’m sure. Firesoul will be no different, as despite being instantly accessible and identifiable, it houses the kind of depth of songwriting that greatly rewards repeated listens. Brainstorm might never be the flavor of the week, but that’s because it’s better than that; Brainstorm is a band for life.

Written for Black Wind Metal