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Brainstorm Metus Mortis

By Frank Meyer, Contributing Editor
Tuesday, January 1, 2002 @ 1:12 PM


(Metal Blade)

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Okay, gently place you hands upon your balls, get a tight grip and squeeze. Then scream “Metaaaaaaallll!!!” Now you are ready to hesh along with Brainstorm.

Staying true to the vintage Euro heavy metal sound since 1989, Brainstorm play classic power metal in the tradition of Iron Maiden, J Priest, Savatage and Queensryche. Joining the ranks of the current crop of heavyweights in this genre such as Iced Earth, Jacob’s Dream and Nevermore, Brainstorm pull no punches and deliver iron lung, steel platted metal like it never went outta style. From the opening attack of “Blind Suffering” to the closing speed metal salvo of “Strength of Will,” Brainstorm play the old fashioned way, with plenty of chugging guitars, air raid siren vocal histrionics and double bass drum relentlessness -- headbangin’ music through and through.

As if the winged Icarus guy on the cover isn’t Maiden-like enough, vocalist Andy B. Franck does the best Bruce Dickinson imitation I’ve ever heard, bar none. Yet despite being a virtual sound-a-like, the man carves out his own niche much in the way that Geoff Tate or Primal Fear/Gamma Ray singer Ralph Sheepers do in relation to Rob Halford. They just do it so well, and with so much power, you practically forget that you’ve heard it all before. But he ain’t no one trick pony and does change it up once and awhile. For instance, on “Behind” Franck adopts a Dave Muistaine-style talk-growl on the verses that break things up a bit vocally. It’s a nice effect though it immediately reminds you of the Mega-man.

Practically every tune on Metus Mortis has a anthemic chorus complete with big ol’ multi-tracked gangland backing vocals and mosh-ready, fist-pumping rhythms. Though this is clearly a guitar-based affair, there are also some synths thrown in the mix from time to time for good measure, just to give it that grand orchestration classical edge. Check out “Hollow Hideaway” or the intro title track of this lush, majestic effect. But have no fear, there are still PLENTY of axes, this isn’t a Europe (the band, not the continent) album. Six-stringers Torsten Ihlenfeld and Milan Loncaric are quite the twin guitar swordsmen, launching dual leads and harmony-laden melodies like hollow point shells from an M-16. “Checkmate In Red” features some choice fretwork and some tasty harmony lead lines, likewise “Cycles,” with its distinctly Painkiller vibe, has some fiery lead work as well.

Look, Brainstorm ain’t reinventing the wheel here or anything folks, but as far as straight-up power metal goes, they do it as well as anyone these days. You got riffs, you got hooks, you got ‘bangers, you got anthems, you got everything you need. Not one ballad in the bunch and no silly attempt at an alternative radio song or any such nonsense. Nope, what you see is what you get -- five guys and a ton of steel.

***1/2


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