Brainstorm - Firesoul

Brainstorm Firesoul cover
AFM Records
The German power metallers Brainstorm are an old timers on the scene beginning their musical path in 1990 with a series of demo releases and succeeding in 1997 to record and release their first effort entitled “Hungry”, which was admittedly quite earnest and helped them to continue later, having us all these years as firm believers by their side. Being active as a band for about 25 years and supply music lovers with notable releases, means that the band must consist of good musicians and therefore it composes with zeal and love for what they do and of course Brainstorm is one of those honest bands.
The year 2014 finds the company of singer Andy Franck releasing their 10th official release “Firesoul” which consists of 12 songs, of which the last two are the bonus tracks, only to be found in the digipack version with which we deal here, through AFM records and also features a second CD with live recorded tracks from some concerts. What should we expect from this year's musical effort? We will analyze step by step the aspects of the disc to put you in the mood for what you might expect if you decide to get it.
Well, we start with the introductory piece entitled “Erased by the Dark”. The piece starts in high gear with the double bass drums dominating and slight symphonic touches because of the keyboards. Franck sounds quite aggressive and great, but here comes my big complaint because the chorus is hypnotic and irritatingly repeatable until the end of the composition. The melodic solo cleaner adds points, but the overall composition never won me over completely, because I would prefer it to have a more standard format.
Next stop is the title track of the album, “Firesoul”. Here things are better. A tight composition ( which I would describe as standard ) utilizing a lot of the riffs in the style of Rob Halford’s “Fight” so brilliant and full of energy. Apart from the very good guitar solo, both the lead and backing vocals in the chorus are remarkable, raising the bar and indicating that the piece is well crafted.
The third song is called “Descendants of the Fire”. Another fast-tempo composition with a good chorus, which does not avoid once the trap of irrational repeatability in this area. Superb guitar solo is just like you would expect, with nice expression and duration, and Franck’s delivery ranges on top level once more , supported by some great  backing vocals once more.
Entering Solitude”, in my view is the highlight of the disc. The speed reduces to allow for a far more flamboyant approach. A mystical and enticing atmosphere haunts the beginning, a cutting rhythmic riff leads most of the verses with nice passages right into the amazing chorus bringing to mind their compatriots Edguy, around “Rocket Ride” regarding the composition style and especially the style of the vocal lines. I think this song will be reflected and imprinted in your mind from the very first time you hear it.
The fifth song is called “Recall the Real”. Medium speeds prevail in a song that could be best described as pompous and symphonic, with the use of keys and the vocals of Andy Franck building tension and its atmosphere. The track might be well composed but it didn’t quite appeal to my tastes, without that being a direct “flaw” it was just not my cup of tea.
Midway through the album stands “Shadowseeker” with the speed increasing once more to a higher tempo. This is closed to the style that the band specializes in, and reminded me quite a bit of the time, Primal Fear around “Nuclear Fire” ( it is obvious that Brainstorm follow the paths of the Teutonic Sound), without being anything special. I’d emphasize that consistent drumming that in my humble opinion is one of the high points of this song.
Feed me Lies” is energetic and has a nice intro, but as the seconds pass, there’s a shift that results in a meaningless chorus that changes the whole tone of the piece making it slightly dramatic. This power imbalance and sudden “sensitivity to light use of keys” I am no fan of – and to be honest it just makes the result very average. The guitars once again are essential to the song and I’m beginning to think that they are the strong point of the entire album.
The eighth track is called “What Grows Inside” another up-tempo composition, in a better context and forms, with Franck attributing some attitude against an extremely fast pace, in a quite paradoxical way, especially the chorus and I think that this, wields good results. The guitar solo remains most excellent and imaginative. Above average piece.
The atmosphere, with beautiful use of keys is the major point of the ninth track, entitled “The Chosen” but, overall I feel that it does not fit with the whole atmosphere of the rest of the album and that it feels like its weakest link. At some points the vocals are also filtered audibly. Fortunately melodic guitars enter sometime like a small oasis in the desert.
Reaching almost to the end, “... And I Wonder” remains outside the climate of the album reminding me of mid-era Paradise Lost. It did not win me over, and I felt it didn’t have something noteworthy to add, so I just passed it without much hesitation.
First bonus track on the digipack version of the series is the eleventh one “Disappeared” which comes to wake us up because it is quite aggressive with some progressive touches to the rhythm of the drums in some points of principle. I do not easily get excited but compared to the previous two tracks, this is quite better. Perhaps it would be better to have included this as a regular one and not as bonus because it fits better the overall climate.
Second and last bonus track is “Strangled”. Not a bad composition. The drums are pounding and there are even thrash rhythms. Very good rhythmic guitars here and a strong chorus, slightly reminiscent of Sanctuary and Grip Inc. and also a very fitting guitar solo. (Gentlemen of AFM recs, rather the bonus tracks should have been put in the regular version, in the place of the last two, but then who’d buy the limited one, right? I maintain my view above)
In summary I want to set out the following. Listening to “Firesoul” quite carefully drew the conclusion that it is a mediocre album that is not worthy of the hitherto career of Brainstorm, because I think that in the past that had supplied us with much more high-quality albums and I wonder why some of the other reviews I saw on the internet deified the album in their majority. It is an album that’s half good that as some point does go plummeting because of the modern ( if I can describe them like that) influences and if it weren’t for Andy Franck’s great vocals and the very good guitars of Torsten Ihlenfeld and Milan Loncaric, the result would be much more modest than it is. I’d rather listen to more classical power forms, since the excellent production of the album would complemented, whereas now I only picked out 3 or 4 quality pieces, instead, with the rest feeling very average or below par. I hope the sequel for the band to be better with the next musical step, without particular experimentation and better judgment in choosing the tracks. More stuff, doesn’t mean good! Too bad the 2 bonus tracks were not baptized main tracks on the disc so they could be enjoyed by the fans who will not buy the digipack version.