The year is off to a magnificent start with releases from some of the masters of European power metal. Germany’s Brainstorm, one of the longest-running European power metal bands, released their new album Scary Creatures in Europe on January 15; it’ll be out on February 5 in North America. Brainstorm is known for being at the harder and heavier end of the power metal spectrum, and my favorite songs on the new album are the fastest, heaviest ones, which have paradoxically whimsical names: “Where Angels Dream” and “Scars In Your Eyes.” The fourth track on the album, “Where Angels Dream” just about bowls the listener over with its relentless charging riffage — although it slows down for an emotional chorus. “Scars In Your Eyes” has a dreamy segment where vocalist Andy Franck sings soothingly, before plunging into the intense chorus that contrasts gritty vocals with a shrill power metal falsetto, and then a headbangable riff. The first song on the album, “The World to See,” is another hard-hitting one, and “Twisted Ways” has a unique thick-sounding riff. The album isn’t without its epic touches though — a choir and symphonics in “We Are…,” the dramatic intro and creepy sound effects of “Scary Creatures,” not to mention the moments when Andy Franck lets his vocals fly as in the chorus of “Twisted Ways.” He doesn’t have the the most piercing or strongest high notes in the genre, but certainly sufficient to give the music a soaring feel. “Sky Among the Clouds” definitely closes out the album on a high-flying, Stratovarius-like epic note, though not without some harsher vocals giving it a bit of Brainstorm heaviness. The album cover also reveals a more fantastical theme than usual for Brainstorm, while still creating a dark and creepy atmosphere – and evoking Iron Maiden’s Eddie to boot. That about sums it up — Brainstorm, dishing up a mix of 80’s heavy metal with power metal flair, does it again, giving us a solid serving of power metal both heavy and epic.
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