May 7th, 2013
Release length: 1:43:51
Of course, the audio is going be somewhat varied throughout considering the years of each release, and the few live tracks. For the most part it does remain consistant, having a lighter, airy atmosphere with some heavy riffs that vary from clean to slightly distorted, and a medium level bass guitar presence that helps make the material a lot catchier. The drums have some tightness on the snares, and the cymbals are generally pushed a bit in the background, though sometimes can have some washout, like with “Far Away.” The bass kicks have a nice click to them. The keyboards are always pretty rich and sometimes louder than the instruments, though not the clean singing, which is usually louder than everything else, and often has a good chunk of layers, especially in the chorus of many songs.
Disc one features eighteen different tracks from throughout their career, and they are all mixed together instead of all being in chronological order. That actually would make sense for an anniversary release, but, again, due to the quality, a lot of times you can’t really tell the difference between albums, leading to a very impressive mix of songs that lead into one another quite well. The only two that clearly stick out end up being the live songs. “Metal Invasion (live)” captures the band’s performance from the soundboard, and also gets the crowd reactions well, such as when they start clapping in rhythm during the opening riffs. The keyboard presence is a little thinner, but still gets the job done on stage either way. “A Perfect Day (live)” gets the crowd amped up, finding them chanting along with the music, probably at the vocalist’s instruction. The music here isn’t as strong as the previous live song, really being the only song in this release you might want to skip, but overall, it isn’t that bad, and does pick up for each chorus.
Aside the live clips, this boasts some of the best material, and some pretty obvious songs, such as “Power & Glory,” “Hero on Video,” and fan favorite “Mr. Evil.” “Land of Light” is also a nice selection thanks largely to the additional keyboards really pushing the uplifting aspect of the track. The drumming and bass riffs really make this one hard to walk away from, and the softer clean singing always makes for a nice change for Freedom Call, adding a little more emotion than normal. Then there’s the Meatloaf heavy “Thunder God,” which is one of the more epic Metal-related tracks on the release. The chorus really hammers away with more power than the main verses, but it isn’t until the end that you really feel the energy included. This disc wraps up with “Back into the Land of Light,” which is the perfect conclusion to this collection, period, leaving the listener satisfied.
While disc one is a great starting point for new fans who may have only recently discovered Freedom Call, and the dedicated fan looking for a kick ass mix of all seven albums, the second disc is what will bring the veterans in more, if not for the pure absurdity some of the songs offer. “Rockin Radio (Killerbilly Version)” has been turned into a Rockabilly track that is incredibly fun, paying huge respect to that style of music, while still respecting the original composition and atmosphere it had. The same can be said about “Metal Invasion (Folk Metal Version).” While upbeat and catchy as hell, some parts can be a bit thin, taking some of the enjoyment away, but not enough to make you want to skip past it. “Mr. Evil (Melodic Reggae Version)” is the perfect song for the Reggae style, presenting a very laid back song with a subtle, but very infectious bass groove to it. The others are good, but nothing all that special, which is sad since they all sounded rather interesting, as well as outrageous. “Freedom Call (Camp Fire Stumming Version)” is easily one of the most intriguing, and will more than likely be the first to grab the listener’s attention when browsing the track list. But, it isn’t what it sounds like. No, this is not like the Minstrels EP by Macabre, but just a simple acoustic rendition that is good, but, again, nothing special.
There are some gripes to be had about this collection, sadly. First is the lack of obscure material. Freedom Call formed back in 1989, and it’s understandable that this is meant as a fifteen year anniversary compilation from that date of birth. However, the music only begins with Stairway to Fairyland, which was issued in 1999. Adding their 1998 self-titled demo would have been nice on the second disc instead of, or in addition to the bonus six alternate versions invluded. Also, a little more attention to some lesser-known tracks would have been nice, instead of focusing more on the fan favorites and commercial singles like the recent “Hero on Video” and “Rockin’ Radio.” Aside that, there’s also the washout on the cymbals. Granted this problem is fairly limited, the only song sticking out like a sore thumb being “Far Away,” but it still would have been a nice touch.
Ages of Light: 1998 / 2013 definitely speaks more to the new listeners that may have only discovered the band through their recent singles, introducing them to what the band has brought to the table since their debut album. But, even for the die-hard fans, disc one is a superb collection that ends up more a judgement call, but is sure to stay lodged in their stereos for quite some time. If you’ve never heard of Freedom Call before, or only heard their last album or two, Ages of Light: 1998 / 2013 is a great place to start getting familiar with the band, and see if their previous efforts are worth picking up.
01. We Are One – 4:57
02. Tears Falling – 5:39
03. Freedom Call – 5:33
04. Farewell – 4:06
05. Metal Invasion (live) – 7:10
06. Warriors – 4:20
07. Land of Light – 3:54
08. Hunting High and Low – 4:02
09. Mr. Evil – 3:43
10. Far Away – 3:19
11. Blackened Sun – 4:39
12. Thunder God – 3:31
13. Tears of Babylon – 3:38
14. A Perfect Day (live) – 3:57
15. Hero on Video – 3:42
16. Power & Glory – 3:25
17. Rockstars – 4:57
18. Back into the Land of Light – 5:11
|Initial Pressing Score: 9/10