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Brainstorm - Downburst (CD)

by Grigoris Chronis at 10 January 2008, 1:25 PM

Nearly twenty years of existence. For sure, more than ten years of official CD releases. Downburst, being the German band's seventh full-length album, kicks major ass. BRAINSTORM is the European force when it comes to 'simply' Metal music. And - I wonder - how the hell isn't this band worth performing in arenas in front of thousands of thirsty 'banging' metalheads…exactly this: 'cause metalheads do not seem thirsty for some serious banging anymore. Downburst is out in January 2008 and all excuses against 'glut' in metallic sounds waves goodbye; fall to your knees and beg for mercy (and go get the fuckin' album, you once-has-been-a metalhead)…
Throughout the Munich, Germany quintet's career, two crucial elements would someone point out as 'A turns': a) The instruments 'base' had remained intact all over the years (I do not know if 'newcomer' bass player Antonio Ieva holds credit in recording for Downburst), meaning chemistry was a piece of cake for everything BRAINSTORM's music is about, b) the onset of Andy B. Franck (SYMPHORCE, IVANHOE), filling in after the surprisingly departure of limited-credit singer Henning Basse (METALIUM, ERRANTY), evolved into the best singer this German Metal band could ever unearth. Hence, it is not weird BRAINSTORM has a kept a pace of gradually 'mature' albums, with the Power/Thrash-y days of Hungry and Unholy looking somehow 'juvenile' right now (still, both of 'em being really good takes - they were re-released by Metal Blade in March 2007 with tons of bonus 'goodies' as 2CD double-digipacks for the price of a regular CD!).
Fire Walk With Me preceded the full album's release; issued in late October, the CD single entered and topped the Hungarian Singles charts (list). A planned 2008 European tour with Swedish 'moody' metallers EVERGREY fell apart due to EVERGREY's delay in releasing their new album, but…what the hell…Downburst is here, alive and kickin' and whoever was attracted to the power of the band's previous efforts, will have limited of chance to avoid the pounding contemporary Metal steel of BRAINSTORM.
Evidence #1: The cover artwork does not 'speak' to me. Rather minimal in colors (and motion) for a BRAINSTORM cover, it does make me wonder if something's wrong. Still, not judging a book by its cover, it was time to proceed. Good news involves a special release of the album in limited 'jakebox' (100% plastic-free) edition (with 2 bonus tracks).
Evidence #2: The production is (again) a killer! Sascha Paeth and Miro sat behind the console and the result sees a typical powerful sound with all instruments equally appearing in front (apart from the 'positive' backing keyboards at times) while Franck's voice sounds so sharp and 'live' you'll think he's just screaming in front of ya.
Evidence #3.1: The songlist varies here. Maybe more than any other time in the BRAINSTORM history; some will not like it at first, but will soon forget about it. Falling Spiral Down is a blasting BRAINSTORM thunder with guitar sharp-razor riffs and exceptional double-bass drumming, while Franck's vocals introduce the listener to another majestic performance (am I the only one to thing this man's one of the top 'steel' Metal voices around?). Fire Walk With Me - as well as Stained With Sin and How Do you Feel (would this be a more suitable first single?) - bears a more ACCEPT-meets-METAL CHURCH-meets-HALFORD mid-tempo attitude, with some 'evil' bridge and beautiful pounding chorus.
Evidence #3.2: Redemption In Your Eyes speeds things up, with some ethereal 'lurking keys' atmosphere, while End In Sorrow opposes all the previous stuff in its melancholic 'power ballad' multitude (a la ICED EARTH or late PRIMAL FEAR). Protect Me From Myself holds an up-tempo spark; maybe the most hammering song off the album; the majestic chorus kicks serious European Metal ass. Surrounding Walls is a nice surprise; some U.D.O. epos with ROYAL HUNT keyboards is the recipe. Franck? Again, marvelous. ROB HALFORD and DC COOPER in one. Frozen's main riff could as well be written during HALFORD's Resurrection sessions, ending up in a bizarre melodic chorus. All Alone wraps up the album; groovy, anti-dull, the song's velvet in its razorous blade facade.
Evidence #4: As regards the instrumentation: not an average moment. Nothing boring. Simply 00's Metal playing. Hey, Metal.
I have already forgotten what 2005's Liquid Monster was about. BRAINSTORM kills and kills again with nothing less than an exciting album. Even its vinyl-format duration (around 43 minutes) helps Downburst to deliver (maybe) of the first great Metal album of 2008. Do yourself a favor and hold your head up while trusting BRAINSTORM for your metallic non-ambiguity.

4 Star Rating

Falling Spiral Down      
Fire Walk With Me      
Stained With Sin      
Redemption In Your Eyes      
End In Sorrow      
How Do You Feel      
Protect Me From Myself      
Surrounding Walls      
All Alone      
Crawling In Chains ('jakebox' bonus)
Hold Tight ('jakebox' bonus - Europe exclusive)
Andy B. Franck - Vocals
Torsten Ihlenfeld - Guitars
Milan Loncaric - Guitars
Dieter Bernert - Drums
Record Label: Metal Blade Records


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