Freedom Call – Beyond (SPV)

Wednesday, 5th March 2014
Rating: 7/10

Does anyone remember laughter? Or the start of the ‘happy’ melodic power metal movement? Think back to the late 1980’s and the arrival of Michael Kiske with Helloween, as the two Keepers of the Seven Keys albums turned the world of many a vocalist, guitarist, or double-bass enthusiast around. It’s a sound that still resonates for many listeners today, including vocalist/guitarist Chris Bay of German quartet Freedom Call.

You see, since 1999 this band live for those uplifting, positive harmonies: the feel of sunshine warming overhead, a crescendo of keyboard orchestration blazing like trumpet fanfare and synchronization of twin guitar rhythms and picking very much in tune with Helloween and early Angra. Add a heavy dose of fantasy lyrical concepts where warriors and knights unite to fight for freedom and justice, and you can see why this is often a love it or leave it genre – a certain tongue-in-cheek aspect that many can get past and others never can step away from.

Beyond is the eighth full length studio record for the band, and as veterans of the scene there isn’t really much to surprise or startle. You’ll get the double-bass, speed-oriented anthem fare like “Union of the Strong” and “Edge of the Ocean,” the magical ‘we’re off to see the Wizard of Oz’ themed arrangements such as “Among the Shadows” or Celtic-oriented “Dance of the Devil,” and the 7:50 epic title cut that showcases more of their dramatic, tension building abilities.

Former bassist Ilker Ersin joins new drummer Ramy Ali as part of the 2014 edition of the group- firmly aware of their roles and understanding the buildups and transitions necessary to pull off high quality happy metal. Guitarist Lars Rettkowitz joins Mr. Bay for the six string layered sonic output, and be aware that keyboards squarely play an equal (if not slightly higher) importance in the execution of Freedom Call’s sound.

I do not think this album will win many new converts – and I doubt Freedom Call would want things any other way. They are content to stay in this melodic, happy power sub-genre and appeal to others who desire more songs in that vein. If that’s your bag, here’s another hour of material to stoke that aural fire.

Freedom Call official site