Freedom Call – M.E.T.A.L. (Steamhammer/SPV)Sunday, 25th August 2019
Hard to believe Freedom Call are on album ten with M.E.T.A.L. and set to celebrate twenty years as a band together – but facts are facts. Right away in 1999 with their debut album Stairway to Fairyland, this German act had an uplifting nature to their brand of melodic, anthemic metal – pairing optimistic lyrics with rejoiceful choirs and music/melodies that bring about happier emotions. Certain records in the discography have appeased this scribe more than others (Eternity and Land of the Crimson Dawn favorites), but you always can depend on plenty of guitar runs, double kick action, and triumphant notes on the keyboards that swell to theatrical crescendos.
Understand that reality at times needs to suspend itself when taking in material like “The Ace of the Unicorn” where you are asked ‘to ride rainbows to the end’, but mainman Chris Bay entices interest through his multiple voices and use of background ‘woah’ chants that set up a quick hitting melodic break from long-time guitarist Lars Rettkowitz. The pacing of the record alternates between conventional anthems like “Sail Away” and the speedy, off to the race affairs such as “Fly with Us” or “Spirit of Daedalus” – where the Helloween edges come to the forefront. 80’s arena rock/ AOR also plays a part in some of the hooks, especially the larger than life intro vocal and subsequent guitar/keyboard passages to “One Step into Wonderland” – as if Chris and the boys stepped into 1987 once again ready to hit the charts. The closing song “Sole Survivor” features some Middle Ages/folk-like guitar and keyboard melodies transposed to electric measures – a nuance that hopefully the band continue to explore, as it throws out a refreshing dynamic against the normal speedy/anthem platform they’ve consistently pushed.
M.E.T.A.L. isn’t exactly going to send seismic shock waves into the landscape of the scene to be proclaimed revolutionary or bold. Freedom Call know their niche – appease the faithful – and in the end hope to develop a future classic or two that adds to their mainstays when playing live.