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Brainstorm - Memorial Roots

Label: AFM
Format: CD download
Released: 2009
Reviewed By: Mark Gromen
Rating: 8/10

Like the early 90s dawn of grunge, which forced the flash & dazzle excesses of the glam movement to clean up their act (cut their hair and attempted to write about something other than 24/7 drunken sexcapades), for the last couple of years the European power metal scene has undertaken self-imposed growing pains (cleansing the over-populated field). Some can adapt to the newer, mature style pushing forward, while most continue to wallow in obscurity, one of many in a faceless mass. Light pitched vocals and guitar widdling alone aren’t enough as we approach the second decade of the new millennium.


That said, this isn’t the fun loving, fist pumping Germanic anthems some might expect from Andy B. Franck and Brainstorm, aka Downburst, but a different monster altogether. Nor is it an immediate record, understood with repeated plays. Both the lyrics and music are more introspective, trending towards the psychological heaviness of Nevermore than the pomp of countrymen like Blind Guardian, Gamma Ray/Helloween (who even had their own dark/depressive gamble, the poorly perceived, yet aptly named "The Dark Ride"). Yet there are strong melodies aplenty.

After a brooding ‘Forsake What I Believe’ opener, ‘Shiver’ picks up the pace, a light-hearted number. Symphonic strings can be heard in the mid-tempo ‘The Conjunction Of 7 Planets’ (also in the more ambitious ‘The Final Stages Of Decay’). ‘Nailed Down Dreams’ is a big sounding number, similar to those 80s power ballads, minus the sappy moments. ‘Blood Still Stains’ reminds me of Savatage, for some reason, while staccato ‘Victim’ is rooted in modern Y2K + rhythms. Having already heard two of these tracks live, have no doubt "Memorial Roots"l translate to the live set wonderfully.

Now if we just get the opportunity to experience it!

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