Brainstorm Memorial Roots
by Joe Mis
Memorial Roots is the latest release from German power metal veterans Brainstorm. This album is a set of 11 uncompromising pure melodic power metal tracks, each displaying Brainstorm’s traditional big booming sound and fine musicianship.
Brainstorm was founded way back in 1989 by the guitar duo of Torsten Ihlenfeld and Milan Loncaric along with drummer Dieter Bernert. After a few years of the typical band-startup tooling around, they recruited Andy B. Franck as lead vocalist in 1999, and this truly created and solidified the Brainstorm sound. Antonio Ieva joined the band and is their current bassist.
Andy Frank has a superb voice – deep and resonant, and he knows how to use it. His almost silky smooth vocals are the lynchpin of the Brainstorm’s music, and somehow he seems to be giving every word maximum effort yet never seems to be straining. Always clear and understandable, he is definitely one of the best front men in metal. Torsten Ihlenfeld and Milan Loncaric make an outstanding guitar duo and display wonderful teamwork across the entire album. Equally comfortable laying down high-speed power riffs or soft acoustic style passages, they are masters at setting a mood for each song and work very well with the other musicians in the group. Antonio Ieva is a fine bass player and handles his job with great enthusiasm, while Dieter Bernert lays down some incredible drum lines without abusing the double bass. These two provide a very good foundation for the music, and the band is truly a cohesive unit. They handle all of their tempo changes and variations in tone and style without any difficulty.
The CD opening is one of the only down spots on the album. Before “Forsake What I Believed” really gets rolling there is an intro piece with a bit of an orchestral sound that drags on for a minute and fifteen seconds and for the most part is so faint it is almost inaudible. Once you get through that oddity the rest of the album truly rocks. “Shiver” is a great upbeat rock track that allows the guitarists to really shine, while “Would You” is a vocalist’s showpiece with layer after layer of harmonies and great lyrics. They pay tribute to some of their influences with a very Iron Maiden-ish opening to the epic “The Conjunction Of 7 Planets”, an old Fates Warning tone to the pounding “Cross The Line”, and a Metallica style riff in “Victim”.
No matter what the style or influence, all the tracks on Memorial Roots are well structured, well performed and always melodic – no screaming, screeching, grunting or gurgling here. There is plenty of music, lots of melody, great catchy hooks, riffs and grooves – everything that makes an album a success. The production and engineering are excellent as well, and the songwriting and musicianship are solid all around – just what one would expect from a truly veteran band.
Memorial Roots is a winner, no doubt. If you were going to expose someone to power metal for the first time, this would be the album to use. Musically and lyrically outstanding, Brainstorm continues improve with each new release, and seems to want to amaze the European metal scene once again. Even if you are not into power metal this album will be a treat, as underneath all the power metal trappings there is lots of melody, great performances, varied styles and good songwriting. Very Highly recommended!
Label: AFM Records
01 – Forsake What I Believed
02 – Shiver
03 – The Conjunction Of 7 Planets
04 – Cross The Line
05 – Nailed Down Dreams
06 – Blood Still Stains
07 – Ahimsa
08 – The Final Stages Of Decay
09 – Victim
10 – When No One Cares
11 – Would You
Hardrock Haven Rating: 9.5/10