BRAINSTORM
"Memorial Roots"

(AFM)

01. Forsake What I Believed
02. Shiver
03. The Conjunction Of 7 Planets
04. Cross The Line
05. Nailed Down Dreams
06. Blood Still Stains
07. Ahimsa
08. The Final Stages Of Decay
09. Victim
10. When No One Cares
11. Would You

RATING: 8/10

Germany's BRAINSTORM are nothing, if not consistent. The band broke out with 2003's "Soul Temptation" and really came into its own on 2005's excellent "Liquid Monster" (an album that in hindsight should have gotten a slightly higher score from yours truly). There was some debate as to the relative merits of 2008's "Downburst", an album I found to be another strong addition to the catalogue, if one that did not top its two predecessors. More than anything else, fans know what to expect from a BRAINSTORM album. Though the formula may be tweaked here and there, the quintet's modus operandi is built from a modern tradition heavy metal base that draws from hard rock and power metal, all of which comes down to songwriting that is riff-based, muscular, and catchy across the board, those melodies bolstered by the tuneful, yet tough, voice of Andy B. Franck. In fact, BRAINSTORM has gotten the art of the addictive chorus down to a science, an attribute that is no more evident than on new album "Memorial Roots".

The more I listen, the more I'm inclined to think that "Memorial Roots" is the band's most consistent album to date, one that flows smoothly from track to track and one that is without any filler whatsoever. On albums like "Downburst" and "Liquid Monster", there were always a couple of standout cuts, which, in both cases, would open the album — "Worlds are coming Through" and "Inside the Monster" in the case of the latter and "Falling Spiral Down" and "Fire Walk with Me" in the case of the former. Though one could argue that "Memorial Roots" does not contain individual standout tracks like the aforementioned four, it is only because the songwriting consistency of "Memorial Roots" is such that each cut is notable in its own right. And that includes several that will go down as BRAINSTORM classics, such as "Forsake what I Believed", "Shiver", "Cross the Line", "The Final Stages of Decay", and "Would You", which are collectively representative of an album on which the hard and the soft are fused together to create the kind of momentum that is conducive to singing along and rocking out with gusto.

There are several other notable tracks too, like "Nailed Down Dreams" with its pop-inflected chorus, the MAIDEN-esque (listen to that "The Wicker Man" sounding pre-chorus), and the up-tempo "Victim", one of several tracks on which keyboard melodies are perfectly woven into the song structures. Here again, the point is all about consistency. Returning to the scientific part of the equation mentioned earlier, the members of BRAINSTORM give the fan base what it wants in the way of familiarity, yet does so with a certain freshness and vigor. "Memorial Roots" proves the point again.

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