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Old Faithful. - 79%

Empyreal, November 11th, 2012

Brainstorm turns averageness and solidity into an artform. Few other bands in the world can consistently put out B-grade power metal albums and somehow also be so entertaining at it. I haven’t heard all their albums but the ones I have heard are a lot of fun. And the thing is, they’re fun completely in spite of being really average and workmanlike. There is nothing about this band that would ever lead me to proclaim them masters of their art. They just sort of do what they do – they make stupidly catchy, riffy and straightforward metal with no bells and whistles. Andy Franck’s bellowing midrange combined with the stodgy brick-like riffs and catchy choruses makes for one hell of a meat-and-potatoes formula. It just kinda works.

This one, On the Spur of the Moment, is yet another album of theirs that does exactly what I just said in the first paragraph. In fact there’s almost no need to even continue the review, as I’ve basically described their sound as much as I need to, but the fact is, I really like this band. Their averageness is commendable because they’re so solidified in it. They can’t write a bad song! Sure, they’ll never write a great song either, but who cares about that when you have such a fun sound anyway? Songs like “In the Blink of an Eye,” “Dark Life,” “Still Insane” and the driving “Where Your Actions Lead You to Live” are just a helluva lot of fun. They don’t do so well at the slow songs, with opener “Below the Line” and “In These Walls” being among the less engaging tracks on offer, but they do have one rock-solid hit with closer “My Own Hell,” which is a grinding down-tempo number with the best chorus on the whole album. Killer.

Andy Franck sounds great as usual, and the production is beefy and hard-assed as hell. This is less epic than their previous album Memorial Roots but also less streamlined than Downburst, and overall there are less weak spots here than on either album. It’s a kind of comfortable middle-of-the-road sort of affair that becomes entertaining simply because of how much fire the band puts into their B-grade music. I don’t think they have any higher aspirations but bashing out their music with conviction and power. It’s just really nice to have bands like this that don’t try to be something they’re not and don’t bullshit around with nonsense in attempts to branch out. Brainstorm is the old faithful of power metal, and paradoxically they turn uninspiringness and average songwriting into something a lot more fun than it has any right to be. Go get this now.