BRAINSTORM
"Liquid Monster"

(Metal Blade)

01. Worlds are Comin' Through
02. Inside the Monster
03. All Those Words
04. Lifeline
05. Invisible Enemy
06. Heavenly
07. Painside
08. Despair to Drown
09. Mask of Life
10. Even Higher
11. Burns My Soul

RATING: 7.5/10

I remember giving BRAINSTORM's "Soul Temptation" one of those solid-but-mediocre tags in a review I did a couple of years ago, and I'm still not certain why, as it ended up growing on me. I now consider it to be a fine heavy metal album. That review has always bugged me. Needless to say, I was extra vigilant in recognizing any potential distraction that could get in the way of a thorough review of "Liquid Monster". This one is a no-brainer. I can say without equivocation that if you liked "Soul Temptation" you will like "Liquid Monster". It's really that simple.

It starts and ends with Andy B. Franck's vocals. The operatic mid-to-high register stuff he does is always well done and never cheese covered. The guy's got a strong heavy metal voice in the classic sense; like his work in SYMPHORCE, it's about balls with finesse. Every melody on every song is already catchy, Franck just makes it that much better.

Much like my assessment of MYSTIC PROPHECY's "Never-Ending", I hate to call BRAINSTORM power metal because to my ears it's just good 'ole melodic heavy metal…period. You can pick just about any song and the description will remain largely the same. The guitars of Torsten "Todde" Ihlenfeld and Milan "Mille" Loncaric are ironclad and tasteful at once, providing a rough edge to the sing-along choruses of songs like "Worlds are Comin' Through", "Inside the Monster", "All Those Words" (the single), "Lifeline", "Burns my Soul"; like I said, pick any song. Sure, there's a formula at work here, but no one said BRAINSTORM is trying to be OPETH. In the one case where the metal bluster is taken down a notch on the ballad-esque "Heavenly", the result doesn't slow the momentum, but rather provides a majestic intermission that recalls to some degree the vintage work of QUEENSRŸCHE.

My personal preference for this style of melodic heavy metal aside, I'm not about to say "Liquid Monster" is any kind of genre redefinition, not even close. It's a simple matter of a band that performs classic heavy metal with teeth and writes memorable songs. And yes, "Liquid Monster" is a few levels above mediocre. I won't make that mistake again.

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