Brainstorm – Scary Creatures (AFM)

Tuesday, 19th January 2016
Rating: 8.5/10

During the mid to late 1990’s when most forms of traditional, power, or heavy metal in general fell off the major media screens in North America, European artists still stuck to their convictions and brandished their axes, drums, and microphones as Blind Guardian, Gamma Ray, Hammerfall and Primal Fear hit the charts and drew thousands to their shows. Brainstorm developed out of that timeframe, as I discovered the band (on import) early in 1998 through their second album Unholy. Singer Andy B. Franck joined the following year, and during the 2000’s the band would elevate themselves to headline/chart success through a series of steady power metal efforts (Metus Mortis and Liquid Monster personal favorites).

Now we are on the eleventh album in the form of Scary Creatures, a personal record roughly conceptual on the lyric front regarding atrocities that have taken place over the past few centuries in the world. The quintet at this point in their career feel comfortable straddling a tried and true power riffing style which has a lot of Judas Priest/Vicious Rumors roots with slower to mid-tempo parts and a heavier, crushing tonality, especially in the guitar department. The listener will get a crunchy, double kick number one moment in “Where Angels Dream” that is followed up by a more sinister, mid-tempo effort that features excellent keyboard accents, a shuffling drum groove plus a main riff that could be a distant cousin to “Fake Healer” from Metal Church in the brilliant title cut.

Using three of the members’ children in the choir portion of “We Are” adds another family touch to the recording – while guitarists Torsten Ihlenfeld and Milan Loncaric fill the sonic landscape throughout with stellar rhythms, counterpoint builds, and dramatic and emotive lead breaks that can be stand alone or contain killer harmony parts (check out “Scars in Your Eyes” for all of their abilities). Andy’s voice has that grit plus multi-tiered prowess that can be evil at times, clear and confident as the best metal singers need to be plus exhorting the right, succinct choruses for “The World to See” and “Take Me to the Never” for maximum audience participation.

Be sure if you can to pick up the limited digipack physical edition too, as beyond a bonus audio track you’ll get a 17 song live DVD set from 2014, filmed in Essen, Germany that contains a full airing of their last album Firesoul in whole plus 7 other hits from the back catalog. Nothing wrong with giving the Brainstorm followers above and beyond value for the money – Scary Creatures keeps the band entrenched in leader, not follower status for power metal.

Brainstorm official website