If a veteran band such as BRAINSTORM switch labels after 12 years, and obviously if you have liked to loved their previous seven albums, then you can’t help but look forward to their first effort on the new label, in this case AFM Records. “Memorial Roots” is trying to follow in big footsteps, since “Downburst” had shown the Germans tread into heavier, sometimes darker, overall more atmospheric territory, so the new effort would be a trend-setting release to see, where the journey would take them from now on.
And “Memorial Roots” seems to try to incorporate the newer and older BRAINSTORM all into one and in order to reel the fans into their camp, they have placed the probably worst possible track of “Memorial Roots” smack into pole position, because “Forsake What I Believed” just doesn’t have the same energy and catchiness that we’ve come to know and love from this band and quite frankly, I got worried that they might have dropped the ball.
Thankfully while the album as a whole shows more diversity and slower tempos than previous efforts, BRAINSTORM return to form shortly thereafter, even “The Conjunction Of 7 Planets”, which shows a fairly calm verse and slow chorus, I love the melodies and harmonies and Andy Franck’s voice still marks this as BRAINSTORM, excellent track. But the Germans are at their best when they show us where the hammer hangs, meaning when the double-bass pound you into submission and the guitars puts your hair into a comb over, “Cross The Line” and “Would You” basically are the only straight up double-bass crackers, but that doesn’t mean that the rest is wimpy.
Just take the duo “Ahimsa” and “The Final Stages Of Decay” and you will find an amazing variety of elements all masterfully put together, the first with some foreign influence in the melodies, a different feeling with some sort of choir low behind the chorus, very interesting, and the latter being a lot more epic and taking us on a roller coaster ride from easy going melodies to faster and heavier passages, everything showing the maturity in song writing.
In general “Memorial Roots” is a bit of a difficult album, because it doesn’t fully seem where it wants to go in the end, it’s not setting a trend for where the BRAINSTORM train will go, but seems a little undecided and it shows a bit if you look at the album as a whole. While it does not reach their heydays of “Metus Mortis” or “Soul Temptation”, it still is a high quality product that keeps BRAINSTORM in the upper echelons of Power Metal, but for the next album I hope they will have picked their path and hope that it will be the right one!
(Online October 27, 2010)