Brainstorm – Wall Of Skulls

Wall Of Skulls Album Cover Art

Brainstorm – Wall Of Skulls
AFM Records
Release Date: 17/09/2021
Running Time: 49:51
Review by Simon Black
8/10

I have a confession to make. Given that I have a deep love of Power Metal, I have somehow managed to not come across Brainstorm up until this point, which is a little embarrassing for a band that have been around for the best part of thirty years. I am however more familiar with one of Vocalist Andy B. Franck’s previous projects – the now defunct Symphorce, which carved a parallel track to Brainstorm for a number of years until Franck pulled the plug on that particular project a decade ago. That outfit had a more Progressive Metal edge which had great appeal to me personally, but Franck’s distinctive and powerful voice is always going to grab your attention and discovering that a vocalist whose work you liked has another ten albums of back catalogue to dig up is no bad discovery on this bleak Monday morning.

The music here is firmly in the anthemic German Power Metal category, something that seems as natural as breathing to natives of that country. It must be something to do with their rather wonderful beer. Far too much Euro Power material gets bogged down with trying to create convoluted concept albums and forgets about building a record around well-structured and crafted songs, but Brainstorm have this down to a tee. Franck’s voice is very high in the mix, which is not a bad thing, but the problem with that approach is you might miss the sheer subtle song-writing craft that guitarists Torsten Ihlenfeld and Milan Loncaric bring to proceedings. The trouble with opting for accessibility for an audience in a festival field to easily singalong to when they don’t know your songs, as many Power acts do is that the tunes can quickly become forgettable after the fact. Not so here. These two really are a pair of riff monsters, with relentless and driven delivery being the order of the day, rather than a focus on overt flourishes of instrumental technical decadence the genre often drips with. The album’s the stronger for it, as the focus is on creating songs that hold the attention with heaviness and rhythm, eschewing the more hook laden melodic catchy anthems that many contemporaries choose.

Not that there isn’t catchiness here, but it mainly comes from Franck, of which the softer ‘Glory Disappears’ gives him chance to adopt a completely different vocal style or the spot on and brilliantly anthemic ‘Solitude’, which takes the top spot favourite song position for me. There’s also plenty of speed and pace in there, with tracks like ‘My Dystopia’ belting out the rhythms and pace without losing the subtlety. Where this record wins over so many of its peers is that it remains consistently strong throughout, to the point where I have struggles to highlight a weak filler song elsewhere. That’s never bad for a Monday.

‘Turn Off The Light’ feat. Seeb from Orden Ogan (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Chamber Thirteen
02. Where Ravens Fly
03. Solitude
04. Escape the Silence
05. Turn Off the Light
06. Glory Disappears
07. My Dystopia
08. End of My Innocence
09. Stigmatized (Shadows Fall)
10. Holding On
11. I, the Deceiver

LINE-UP:
Andy B. Franck – Lead Vocals
Torsten Ihlenfeld – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Milan Loncaric – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Antonio Ieva – Bass
Dieter Bernert – Drums

LINKS:

Brainstorm Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

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