posted on 2/2008 By:
When the weather and my disposition are sunny, I love cranking European power metal. When the world insists on pissing on my head, give me a catchy power metal record with infectious choruses, snappy riffs and bright, bubblin' leads as my umbrella. Put a shit sandwich on my plate with a snide, mutinous grin? How'bout a little "Eagle Fly Free," "I'm Alive," or "Fools Never Die!" -- now THERE'S the necessary middle finger to your hair in my sunny-day soup.
But there's a limit to the level of goofy I can stomach. Edguy's "Lavatory Love Machine" tests my limits a bit too much, for example. But as far as I'm concerned, Brainstorm has the formula pretty well figured out. This band's happy without the honking clown horns. Sunny and inspiriting sans the chasing of bubbles in an all-out gigglefest. This is power metal that's meant to uplift and make you feel good in a Helloween/Masterplan kinda way, ya dig?
Of course this also means fans hoping for a return to the slightly darker days of Ambiguity or Metus Mortis will be left disappointed. Honestly, you'd have to check and double-check the results of your experiments to unravel much of a difference in the formula used by the band over the last five years. Much like the band's previous two efforts, 2005's Liquid Monster and 2003's Soul Temptation, Downburst continues down the sunny path by offering up yet another mound of toe-tappin' tunes with just a smidge of aggression in the riffing to help cut the cream. Sure, there are some subtle shifts in heaviness and keyboard experimentation (this go-round features a couple cuts flourishing keyboard orchestration), but Downburst is essentially an analogous tread set down by the same beast that stomped out the previous two records. There's still a shit-ton of infectious choruses delivered through the always-consistent cords of Andy B. Franck (an ideal PM vocalist for those who abhor all things falsetto), and loads of lustrous leads to further stick these tunes to the brain. The fiery opener, "Falling Spiral Down", the infectious "Stained With Sin", and the brisk head-bopper, "How Do You Feel", all deliver killing blows this time around.
Unfortunately, the record takes the first cut too literally once the seventh track ends. "Surrounding Walls" -- a tune that relies too heavily on keyboard orchestration -- and its successors, "Frozen" and the wobbly, trite closer, "All Alone", end the album on a fairly disappointing note. However, despite these three misfires, I'd still consider the whole of this record to be a pleasant journey, especially if you're a fan of the band's recent works. If you're looking for something a bit more luminous to shovel two scoops of raisins into your life, Downburst just might be the animated sun you're looking for. Not too shabby, boys. Not too shabby at all.
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