German power metal band with an American vocalist. The band was formed in Germany in 1989 with original vocalist Henne Basse who left the band and joined Metalium. Vocalist Andy B. Franck, from Symphorce, was added before signing to Metal Blade and releasing 'Ambiguity'. Their sound is comparable to Angel Dust, Iced Earth and fellow German power metallers Enola Gay.
Brainstorm - Hungry (B.O. Records) 1997
1. "Nails In My Hand"
What a spectacular debut. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect from the band's first album, especially since Andy B. Franck was not yet the band's vocalist. Make no mistake about it, Marcus Jürgens has some strong pipes that are very similar. The entire album smokes from beginning to end. "Hungry" features killer riffs, great guitar solos, and strong songwriting. The production isn't perfect but certainly isn't bad either. Actually the slightly more raw production suites the heavy music quite well. I was also quite surprised at the end of the disc to hear a familiar voice. Ralf Scheepers of Primal Fear, /Gamma Ray fame sings duet with Marcus on "Mr. Know-It-All". In any case, Brainstorm has got to be one of the unsung heroes of the power metal scene.
Brainstorm - Unholy (BO Records) 1998
I was quite surprised to find this disc being that it was released on a small label in Germany. Anyhow, Brainstorm's sophomore release is surprisingly as heavy and as well written as "Ambiguity" and "Metus Mortis." I'm not sure why I was expecting something less, but this disc has a ton of hook, crunch and aggression. I can't get enough of this stuff.
Brainstorm - Ambiguity (Metal Blade) 2000
A friend of mine from Norway turned me onto this CD. I had actually never heard of this band before getting it in the mail so I decided to do a little investigating before I listened to the disc. I discovered these guys are from Germany and have toured Europe with such bands as Iced Earth and Grave Digger. Being that these are two of my favorite power metal bands, I was anxious to check out Brainstorm. To my surprise and delight Brainstorm play crushing heavy metal not unlike Iced Earth. I think one of the biggest similarities that I heard was in the mid to high vocal range of Andy Franck who reminded me slightly of Matthew Barlow. Despite this, however, the songwriting, and especially the style of rhythm guitar playing is unique to this band. Album opener "Crush Depth" is a pummeling power metal song, as is the majority of the music on this disc. The song starts off with an eerie clean guitar part before coming in full tilt at about a minute into the song. "Tear Down the Walls" takes the intensity up a bit, as well as the speed. 'Beyond My Destiny' is a superb power metal ballad with orchestration, killer vocal-arrangements and a big hook. 'Ambiguity' is the band's third CD. and they also have a newer disc out called "Metus Mortis" on Metal Blade that I also had a promo copy of for a few days. Hopefully by the next update I will have a regular copy.
Brainstorm - Metus Mortis (Metal Blade) 2001
1. "Metus Mortis"
On Brainstorm's second disc for Metal Blade (their fourth overall), they continue in the modern day power metal mode. I can't imagine any fan of Nevermore or Iced Earth not digging this disc. I really see this disc as falling somewhere between those two bands, holding tight to the true metal banner like Iced Earth, but with a dark, more modern production and those soulful vocals like Nevermore. I am not suggesting, that Brainstorm is a clone of either band, but this was the picture that I got while driving through town cranking this disc. Being the Brainstorm are from Germany there are some similarities to German bands like Enola Gay and well. The riffs are heavy and crunchy, the drum work is outstanding and the vocals are mid-ranged, yet passionate at times and aggressive at others. The vocal melodies didn't hit me over the head the very first time I heard this disc, but they were interesting enough to have me longing for more, so they have become more familiar with each listen.
Brainstorm - Soul Temptation (Metal Blade) 2003
Brainstorm are quickly becoming among my favorite bands. Brainstorm are on a metal quest to conquer the world and if they continue to put out music of this caliber they just might do it. Their mixture of heavy power metal and melody, along with Andy Franck's soulful vocals are just captivating to me. So, I guess it is only a matter of how much backing they get from Metal Blade. Musically I can only describe "Soul Temptation" as a mixture of the intensity, emotion and heavy rhythms of Iced Earth mixed with the best parts of Dream Theater's "Images and Words." That is what came to mind the fifth or sixth time I played this disc. It's just absolutely one of my favorite discs to come out this year. The limited edition (double digi-pack) of "Soul Temptation" features the bonus track "Amarillo" and a bonus LIVE DVD, titled "Live Suffering" that was recorded live at the SUMMER BREEZE FESTIVAL 2002 (five cameras, Dolby surround 5.1). The live material is freakin' awesome! I see these European metal festivals and WISH that the U.S. wasn't so caught up in the trendy crap. Anyhow, the band puts on a stellar performance. Most of the tracks selected are from Metus Mortis, except "Crush Depth" which is off Ambiguity, "Liar" of Hungry and "Voices" which is off "Unholy".
Brainstorm - Liquid Monster (Metal Blade) 2005
Every Brainstorm release since I first heard "Ambiguity" has dominated my CD player for weeks up it's release. "Liquid Monster" is no exception to this rule. While Brainstorm are indeed a power metal band, these guys have created a unique sound for themselves that there is no denying their identity. Unfortunately for them, this puts them in danger of repeating themselves from album to album. I have already read accusations to this effect across the web. However, I find their sound and songwriting to have improved with each consecutive release. "Liquid Monster" simply destroys all competitors. The album opens with the infectiously heavy "Worlds Are Comin' Trough", with it's intricate mix of keyboards and crunchy guitars. "Inside the Monster" features on of the band's best hooks in a long time. The very title of the song puts the melody of the chorus ringing through my head. The albums first single is perhaps one of Brainstorm's finest songs ever. "All Those Words" is an outstanding, melodic song featuring a mix of Andy B. Franck's unique vocals layered with some beautiful female vocals. If this song doesn't push the band into more popular territories across the globe, I would be very surprised. "Lifeline" returns the band to a sound that borders on thrash metal and reminds me slightly of Iced Earth's heavier moments. "Invisible Enemy" brings the tempo down, but is nonetheless heavy and aggressive. This song features sweeping guitar riffs and yet another big, memorable chorus brought to life by layers of vocals. "Heavenly" takes the tempo down even further and is a tender, emotional ballad. Once again, it's Andy Frank's commanding vocal performance that brings this song to life together with a big, meaty chorus. It also helps that the band has one of the best mixes I have ever heard. Many power metal bands lost the heaviness when they are overproduced, but that is certainly not the case with "Liquid Monster". The production here is outstanding. Brainstorm have nearly a perfect mix. While every instrument is clearly heard, they also haven't lost their edge. In the mellower moments, like the ballad "Heavenly", the production keeps the song from sounding like some cheesy AOR ballad. "Painside" and "Despair to Drown" are chunky, Judas Priest-inspired chunks of German power metal. "Mask of Life" is another more melodic number that starts off sounding a bit melancholy before picking up into a heavy, with some heavy, sweeping guitar riffs and layers of vocals. "Even Higher" thrashes along at full speed before the album finishes off with the equally heavy, melodic "Burns My Soul". Brainstorm have improved with each new album and must be considered as part of the upper echelon of power metal bands. "Liquid Monster" should at least push Brainstorm into similar realms of popularity of bands like Iced Earth. As with Iced Earth, I really think that Brainstorm have come into their own. They have truly developed their own unique sound.
My copy of "Liquid Monster" is the limited edition digi-book version, which contains a bonus DVD with approximately twenty five minutes of video footage of the band in the studio and generally goofing around. It also contains the added audio track "Before the Dawn", which is an outstanding Judas Priest cover. My copy is also autographed in silver by the entire band. The DVD is in PAL format. While the DVD is a nice addition, it's not quite as essential as the DVD released with "Soul Temptation", which included an entire live show.
1. "Falling Spiral
Germany's Brainstorm return with their seventh studio album and continue their conquest of pure, unadulterated heavy metal. The band's signature sound is still well in place with vocalist Andy B. Franck's howl still at the front. As with past releases, the music on "Downburst" is a blend of power and traditional metal; soaring melodies, sharp riffs, blazing solos and fast tempos mixed with moderate paced and heavier straight ahead heavy metal, as well as a power ballad or two. As with the past two albums, "Downburst" has plenty of meat and hooks to hold the average listener as well. I suppose this is what I like so much about this band, as opposed to many other bands that are labeled "power metal". Brainstorm are not afraid to simplify things when the song needs it, rather than attempting to prove that they are the fastest, or most technical, or whatever. They just play solid heavy metal. As well, Brainstorm are melodic, although not to the point of sounding like an outdated AOR band either. They have plenty of grit and edge to their song writing. Really, there isn't much more to say. "Downburst" is yet another solid heavy metal platter from Brainstorm.
Brainstorm - Memorial Roots (AFM) 2009
Brainstorm - On The Spur Of The Moment (AFM) 2011
1. Erased by the Dark (04:43)
2. Firesoul (04:15)
3. Descendants of the Fire (04:47)
4. Entering Solitude (04:51)
5. Recall the Real (06:21)
6. Shadowseeker (04:04)
7. Feed Me Lies (04:52)
8. What Grows Inside (03:54)
9. The Chosen (04:46)
10. ...and I Wonder (05:31)
Germany's Brainstorm are easily one of the best and most consistent power metal bands over the past decade. Their debut was dropped on the world in 1997 and they have released a string of great albums ever since then. "Firesoul" is their tenth full-length relase. Firesoul aren't the typical dungeons and dragons European power metal band. This band is all about heavy guitars, heavy riffs, memorable hooks and harmonies. Vocalist Andy B. Franck is definitely one of the more defining parts of Brainstorm's sound He possesses an incredibly powerful and aggressive voice and sings with a mid-range approach that adds to the overall heaviness of Brainstorm's sound.
The album artword for "Firesoul" is eerily similar to the band's 2003 release "Soul Temptation", which many see as one of the band's best albums. I can only imagine the band is trying to recreated the excitement from that album as they bring back artist Achim Koehler to create the cover art. Musically the album is similar in style as well. The CD starts off with the incredibly heavy "Erased By the Dark" and that intensity is felt throughout the album. This is heavy metal. Though they are generally labeled power metal, I just don't hear much in hear that puts them in that European power metal sound, nor are they quite as thrashy as the early U.S. power metal bands. However, this songs does feature some blazing double bass drumming by Dieter Bernert and is easily on par with legendary American power metal bands like Metal Church and Vicious Rumors.
Where Brainstorm really lacks is in diversity. For the most part Brainstorm knows their strength and capitalize on it by following their own consistent formula. For the most part I find the formula to work well and be very enjoyable. However, the lack of diversity also can work against the album as a whole. Thankfully on "Firesoul" the band has kept it down to only ten songs, thereby avoiding the album getting boring. In fact, some of the best tracks are at the end of the album. "The Chosen" is driven by a heavy groove and some incredibly melodies by Franck. The chorus is very ultra catchy. "...And I Wonder" finishes things off with a heavy mid-tempo riff before jumping into some clean guitars and melodic vocals. As with "The Chosen" the chorus is infectious and will ingrain itself into your membrane.
"Firesoul" is easily one of the band's best since "Soul Temptation". It's a solid heavy metal album from an underrated heavy metal band.