Brainstorm - Liquid Monster

Year of Release: 2005
Label: Metal Blade
Catalog Number: 3984-14526-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 51:21:00

German metallers Brainstorm, fronted by screamer Andy B. Franck, released their sixth album last year, called Liquid Monster. Guitars (Torsten Ihlenfeld, Milan Loncaric) and bass (Andreas Mailander) churn and throb, twin guitar leads soar and intertwine, drums (Deiter Bernert) pound and crash, harmonized vocals sing power choruses in warrior like fashion, and basically things chug along in the expected manner, all elements where you expect them to be, all with catchy vocal hooks; for the most part, keyboards are a very subtle element.

The speed changes of course, the most pummeling being "Lifeline" (closely tied with "Even Higher"), the most thrashy "Despair To Drown," and the most restrained the balladic "Heavenly," though it does go into power ballad mode (the other power ballad is the heavier, epic, sometimes jangling "All Those Words"). "Despair," incidentally, comes complete with gulps of cookie monster vocals, a mix of Iron Maiden-on-speed and a Metallica-like snarl reminiscent at times of "Disposable Heroes." Oddly enough, after the song ended and before the next one began, my mind started playing the opening guitar refrain from "Enter Sandman." And what should come next on Liquid Monster but an acoustic guitar intro, similar and yet dissimilar to what I felt should logically come next, as represented by the Metallica reference. That next track is "Mask Of Life," which throws in some John Petrucci-like chiming guitar, before launching into another power metal assault.

The underlying theme to each of the songs - a repeating motif, if you will - is the idea of losing one's mind. In many ways, it's the same song over and over, even if some the lyrics are different, some of the guitar solos are different, the vocal melodies different. It feels like a band spinning their wheels. It's pretty enough, in those sections that are pretty -- the bridge of "Invisible Enemy" for example, with some rolling piano figures. The twin guitar leads that come in a moment later seem a little too tight for this spot, not in execution but in arrangement; a little too pinched, you might say. Perhaps not wanting to get too soft after that piano passage. But then again, the intro to "Heavenly" sounds like one part Fleetwood Mac's "Sara" (harp like acoustic guitar strumming) and one part Queensryche's "Silent Lucidity" (with Tate-like vocalisms, but without the Pink Floyd element), lacking the magic of either. It sounds "pretty" -- something for the ladies, I guess -- but the lyrics are somewhat inscrutable, contradictory? And the brief piano flourish at the "Mask Of Life" is another pretty element (that lasts too short for my ears). A middle section to the album's closer, not quite pastoral, but containing some of the conventions of, is quite nice - a folksy, arpeggio-laden passage that also qualifies as "pretty."

I don't know if it's just because I've been listening to so much metal now that nothing seems fresh, which doesn't seem likely, but as melodic and energetic as this album is, and as catchy, relatively speaking, as "Inside The Monster" is? this doesn't bowl me over. The performances are good, the arrangements tight and suitably heavy. The production is good, though a bit chilly. Could be the album artwork, with its silvers and blues and whites leads to that impression, but right from the get go, there's something cold about the music. And that despite the harmonized vocals and Franck's attractive lead vocals (when he isn't opening the track with a scream or yelp).

Execution gets a 4/5, but the fact the whole thing is, to this reviewer, lackluster and feels like metal by rote, I can't really give this anything above a 3? just half a point or star above average; that half-point is that, chilliness aside, the sound of it is good, that's the production and the above mentioned execution. That is, material is average, playing above average.

Worlds Are Coming Through / Inside The Monster / All Those Words / Lifeline / Invisible Enemy / Heavenly / Painside / Despair To Drown / Mask Of Life / Even Higher / Burns My Soul

Andy B Franck - vocals
Torsten Ihlenfeld - guitar
Milan Loncaric - guitar
Andreas Mailander - bass
Deiter Bernert - drums

Hungry (1997/2007)
Unholy (1998/2007)
Ambiguity (2000)
Metus Mortis (2001)
Soul Temptation (2003)
Liquid Monster (2005)
Downburst (2008)

Honey From The Bs (DVD) (2007)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin DE

Added: December 4th 2006
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1010
Language: english


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