FREEDOM CALL have always been a band that split the fans, some thought there were too bombastic, others loved exactly that trait in their songs. I personally absolutely love their debut "Stairway To Fairyland" and also really liked the subsequent others, so when their 5th effort "Dimensions" reached me, I was hopeful for another quality release by the band around Chris Bay and Dan Zimmermann.
The basic ingredients are the same, Power Metal, often fast, almost always bombastic, with Chris' high vocals and big melodies, so nothing wrong to be found there (unless you already despise the genre and band, but then again, why are you reading this review to begin with other than to enforce the opinion you already had cemented before?), yet still the album seems to fall short in a few areas. The line-up changes with guitarist Cedric Dupont and bassist Ilker Ersin leaving probably hardly had anything to do with it, as since the beginning it had been Bay and Zimmermann responsible for the creative side of FREEDOM CALL, so what is the reason?
One thing that strikes throughout the album is the sometimes extremely happy atmosphere and the at times almost Pop melodies. Sure, previous efforts had some of these elements as well, but both seem to be cranked to overdrive on parts of "Dimensions", which is, despite my obvious affinity to bombastic stuff, at times off-putting. Now of course a band has to try to avoid just keeping to copy itself (unless you're AC/DC, for example, but some bands have exactly that as their trademark) and the Germans tried to address this, unfortunately I am not sure, if the direction they chose actually was the right one. I will admit, that so far this is reading way more negative than my rating reflects and I have to stress that this album is definitely not a failure.
If you take the opening duo "Innocent World" and "United Alliance" ("Demons Dance" is an intro, which should work very well for a live show, though), for example, they both show the trademarks of early FREEDOM CALL and are the fodder I like to be fed by the band (and that the haters will love to throw back in your face). "Mr. Evil" then will split the fans, as it is a) a lot catchier than the first two and secondly the lyrics remind me a bit HELLOWEEN's "Mr. Torture", they might be related?
So far so good, but as the album progresses, the creative motor seems to stutter here and there, either drifting off too much into fluffy terrain or simply not reaching the class of previous efforts. Remarkable tracks are the darker "Blackened Sun", "Magic Moments" (unfortunately for the wrong reasons, as this one is so fluffy and sticky sweet that I feel as if my ears are dripping with sugar) and "Far Away" (I definitely had not expected bagpipes, even though lyrically it is rather questionable...).
So not a bad effort, but in the past FREEDOM CALL had delivered a lot more, so I hope that this is not turning into a downward spiral, it would be a waste of talent, if it was...
(Online January 16, 2008)