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Brainstorm - Midnight Ghost Award winner

Brainstorm
Midnight Ghost
by Justin "Witty City' Wittenmeier at 14 October 2018, 6:57 AM

Power Metal, to me, is one of the purest sub genres around.  In many ways, it isn’t a sub genre because Power Metal invokes many elements of traditional metal.  Songwriting prowess, heavy but melodic songs, musical arrangements built upon a foundation of energy and attitude. BRAINSTORM’S new album (their twelfth!) “Midnight Ghost,” has all these hallmarks in spades.  The biography that accompanied the promo that came to me said the band wanted to be measured by this album for the future; clearly they feel this is a benchmark album and you know what?  I couldn’t agree more.  Everything from the stunning production and catchy, impeccable song writing screams modern day classic.

Midnight Ghost,” is loaded with songs that are extremely heavy, often times frantic, and is definitely darker than most of Power Metal albums.  I mean, some of these tracks are absolute bangers.  Still, the heaviness of the tracks is wrapped up in a melodic blanket an some of the most catchy vocal lines I’ve heard in ages.  FRANCK sings his ass off, his incredible vocal attack somehow rising above the speedy riffs or searing guitar solos; this guy just sounds so confident and inspired across the ten tracks.  The band itself knows exactly what it is doing and they do it so well they come across as a force of nature that was somehow contained inside this album.

The album opens with “The Devil’s Eye,” with the crisp, clear and power of Bernhert's drumming.  His double bass lifts the song into the stratosphere as does the snare, which is hammered in with the ferocity of a small nuke going off. Guitarists Loncaric and Ihlenfeld know exactly what to play and when to bring in some pro elements.  The stanzas are filled with thrash metal style speed riffs and the chorus is against the boundaries of melody with some prog touches here and there.   The middle of the song even contains a bit of groove; with this song, and the following nine, the band thinks of basically every idea in the history of Power Metal and includes them while perfecting them.

Even if “Ravenous,” was an otherwise terrible track, the chorus would make up for it; I challenge you to listen to this song and not be humming that damn thing for days.  But the rest of the song isn’t terrible.  I loved the mix of clean and heavy guitar during the stanza’s, it is a great set up for the melodic tones that come through on the chorus.The next track, “The Pyre,” is indeed searing and it starts burning right out of the gate.  Everything about this song was made for the “repeat” button on whatever you listen to music on it.  The dynamics of the song echo the sonic density of NEVERMORE and the energy of ICED EARTH.  If someone asked me what Power Metal sounded like, you could do worse by playing this track.  If the chorus doesn’t grab them, the guitar solo and the jam session that follows afterwards surely will.

More groove comes back on “Divine Inner Ghost,” rivaling the heaviness of modern day SYMPHONY X but still distinctly melodic.  Once again, a chorus that just infects your brain rises up.  I bet this song would straight up slay in a live setting. The last track, “The Path,” is a semi acoustic jaunt. It obviously isn’t heavy but it exudes the same carefully crafted song writing of the previous nine tracks.  Franck gives one of the best vocal performances of his career on this song.  The chorus does feature some slick riffs that compliment the acoustics perfectly.  Bassist Ieva spends the bulk of the album crushing like a good metal bassist should but he really lets his melodic side show in this one.

I haven’t had this much fun with an album in a long time and there isn’t no way it won’t land on many a top 10 lists by the end of the year.  BRAINSTORM have long career but “Midnight Ghost,” is one hell of a statement that it is far from over and their best years are just now getting here. It's as good as Power Metal gets.

Songwriting: 10
Originality: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Devil’s Eyes
2. Revealing the Darkness
3. Ravenous Minds
4. The Pyre
5. Jeanne Boulet (1764)
6. Divine Inner Ghost
7. When Pain Becomes Real
8. The Four Blessings
9. Haunting Voices
10. The Path
Lineup:
Andy B. Franck – Vocals
Milan Loncaric – Guitars, Vocals (Backing)
Torsten Ihlenfeld – Guitars, Vocals (Backing)
Antonio Ieva – Bass
Dieter Bernert – Drums
Michael “Miro” Rodenberg – Keyboards (Session)
Record Label: AFM Records
     


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Edited 20 June 2019
 

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