Brainstorm: On the Spur of the Moment

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Brainstorm: On the Spur of the Moment
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Brainstorm: On the Spur of the Moment
Power Metal
AFM Records
November 8th, 2011
Release length: 47:10
Myspace
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Brainstorm has become one of the widely overlooked bands in the Power Metal field to date. Formed back in 1989, the group has been issuing material since their 1997 debut, Hungry, having a discography of eight full-length recordings amid a slew of other releases over the years. In 2009, the group issued the album Memorial Roots, which didn’t really take off with many fans of the style, or even the band, boasting some of the group’s lowest scores from critics to date. But, this hasn’t held the group down, and two years later they entered the studio to record their ninth effort, On the Spur of the Moment, living up to their claims of persistance according to the title of their recent 2009 compilation album. But, does this effort present material that critics and fans will find more enjoyable then their latest offerings, or will it show a band continuing to slowly go down the road of unimpressive more-traditional Power Metal?

Keeping in tradition to the high quality audio sound of their more recent releases, Brainstorm bring another solid sounding album to the table, without really losing any of it’s heaviness. The guitars here come through a more typical Power Metal sound with a decent edge to the heaviness they give off, all the while backed by a low and obvious bass performance that adds to the blunt side of the band’s music. The drums here have a nice click to the bass kicks and snares that are rather loud though at times seem to blend in with the kicks as far as their sound goes, sharing a rather similar clicking level. The cymbols, however, don’t really shine through as loud and actually feel a little muffled against the guitars and the rest of the kit. Of course the vocals are exactly what you expect from Brainstorm, having a pretty energetic performance with a high, commanding clean singing approach that is a bit nasal, and tries to enforce a bit of an epic sound to the release, fitting into the staple of the band’s musical foundation. And when the music really gets going with a heavier, yet catchy or even commanding sound, the range shines through and makes for a more engaging spin outside the typical modern Brainstorm signature sound.

And with that said, if you’ve heard a Brainstorm album before, you know exactly what you’re getting into. But, this one definitely does top some of their previous offerings. Much of the tracks here are simply solid compositions with strong, heavy music backing them up despite the less-then-dynamic volume of the cymbols that do still come through, but you wish as loud as the rest of the kit. And that’s another point of the music that works for the band: It’s loud. On the Spur of the Moment doesn’t necessarily seem faulted by this, infact in many ways it helps the music out by asserting a bit of a more aggressive or commanding vibe to the music, while accentuating some of the more melodic tracks of the release, such as “In These Walls” and the subtle keyboards that help to create a more passionate sounding atmosphere to this song that many others don’t have. Instead, the other songs seem to have a more professional vibe to them, as if the band took all the years together and put their knowledge to work to create songs that still make an impact on the listener, but have the sense of a band that knows what they want to do, what their fans expect from them, and how to deliver it. Granted, the more passionate material here really stands out more then some of the darkened atmospheric yet professional tracks here. “Below the Line” does start the album off on a good note, showcasing some emotion into a strong, heavy, and tight sounding track that is enjoyable for the whole six and a half minutes, but you can’t help swaying more int he direction of “In These Walls” with it’s emotionally stirring environment and much richer musical foundation that really appeals to the listener more on a personal note then that of a band coming in and simply doing what they do best.

This isn’t to say the only good tracks are the passionate ones, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. There’s still a great deal of energy to be found here, and that’s what do make the more professional songs, as well as that heavier yet cleaner audio quality, remain enjoyable for many spins to come past the first. “In the Blink of an Eye” is the perfect example, being one of the best Brainstorm tracks to come from the group in a long while, and will immediately have you banging your head along to the catchier music and more aggressive yet energetic sound. The tight performance and somewhat larger performance that builds up towards the end causes this one to stand out nicely on the release, and makes for a good representation of what the band’s capable of throughout this effort and typically achieves. Even the following “Temple of Stone” gives off a nice mixture of that Power Metal sound while still incorporating a bit of a Hard Rock presence that the band has been known to throw in from time to time, all the while utilizing a heavy, driving chugging approach that benefits from the generally louder audio quality and makes this approach a lot more commanding then it normally would be. The guitars here do a great job at keeping the song from sticking to a simple chug and offer some nice varying riffs and even a rhythmic layer at some points that keeps the energy flowing, as well as maintains keeping the track frm being dull or repetitive.

Honestly, On the Spur of the Moment boasts a lot of good songs, and even the start of the album doesn’t quite compare to some of the other tracks that appear. “Still Insane” does blend in a mesh of some Hard Rock, and it really makes for an infectiously catchy song that will have you banging your head right along with the passionate environment and stylish music. The song does have a bit of an upbeat atmosphere that’s just generally fun, and it really does come through as the best song of the album and will have you coming back to that track specifically for quite some time. “No Saint – No Sinner” shows the band continues on with that upbeat, fun atmosphere through some additional Hard Rock elements through a good majority of the closing to the release, and this song really works that fact to the core. The song’s more aggressive approach grabs your attention by the throat, refusing to let you go until your swept up with the pulse pounding Metal, only to start pounding your fists into the air along with the intense chorus that is belted out at you with a nicely transitioned slower section around the two third mark that feels right at home despite slowinog the pace down, building back up to that chorus that will make you explode with Metal pride and enthusiasm where ever you may be.

To put it simply, this is the Brainstorm release I, and many of their fans, have been waiting on for quite some time. Each track on here really stands out with energy, solid music, tight performances, and a great amount of range to the atmosphere and sounds that keep the album kicking as you go through it. It’s impossible to try to single out any bad tracks, though “Below the Line” is perhaps the weakest of songs on here thanks to it’s more traditional signature approach for the band compared to the rest of the material. On the Spur of the Moment is far from anything fresh from the band, but it’s just everything working together so well with each element of the album, from the audio to the performance and in between, that it makes for a fantastic Power Metal effort that shows the band hasn’t lost their edge afterall. If you enjoy solid Metal, or have been a fan of Brainstorm waiting for that new album to shake your mundane fears away, this one is it and a must have. On the Spur of the Moment is a genuine Metal thrill ride from start to finish that you can’t bring yourself to stop taking.

01. Below the Line – 6:52
02. In the Blink of an Eye – 4:34
03. Temple of Stone – 3:28
04. In These Walls – 5:24
05. Still Insane – 3:53
06. Dark Life – 4:12
07. No Saint – No Sinner – 5:30
08. Where Your Actions Lead You… – 3:33
09. A Life on Hold – 3:11
10. My Own Hell – 5:29
Overall Score: 9.5/10
Brainstorm (Band)
Brainstorm (Logo)
Digital review copy of this release provided by AFM Records via Earsplit PR.