BRAINSTORM
"On the Spur of the Moment"

(AFM)

01. Below The Line
02. In The Blink Of An Eye
03. Temple Of Stone
04. In These Walls
05. Still Insane
06. Dark Life
07. No Saint - No Sinner
08. Where Your Actions Lead You To Live
09. A Life On Hold
10. My Own Hell

RATING: 8/10

You can always count on Germany's BRAINSTORM to meet or exceed expectation and deliver an album that is comfortably familiar without sounded retreaded. Evidence is provided in a big way with "On the Spur of the Moment", a consistently great listen from one end to the other and a strong representation of the band's catchy mix of power and modern melodic metal.

If anything, "On the Spur of the Moment" comes with a noticeably harder edge this time around. The riffs of Torsten Ihlenfeld and Milan Loncaric are extra beefy and often quite aggressive with songs like "Where Your Actions Lead you To Live" coming at you with brass knuckles in tow. That "In the Blink of an Eye" is worthy of note for those same aggressive tendencies and what will soon be considered a classic BRAINSTORM chorus that is impossible to dislodge from memory is indicative of the band's perfection of its craft. Album closer "My Own Hell" is a different kind of ballsy with its heavy (John) Bonham-esque plod and chunky riffs, while the keyboard lines give the track a mystical, Eastern quality that we've heard in a general sense from bands like LED ZEPPELIN and WHITESNAKE. (Relax; nobody is saying that BRAINSTORM sounds just like either of those acts). "Temple of Stone" just plain swaggers and stomps its way through much of the song and will still leave you humming the main melody. Even when the lights turn down and the feel is more serene, the combination of brawn and beauty continues to stand out. In that sense, we're mainly talking about "In these Walls", which just happens to have more sparkling keyboard qualities than the rest of the material, giving it a vaguely EVERGREY vibe in its iciness.

Even better is the fact that not a single one of the 10 tracks of "On the Spur of the Moment" can be ignored; not a misstep to be found. On the nearly seven-minute, mid-tempo opener "Below the Line", BRAINSTORM cooks with a mix of past ingredients and ends up with another classic-in-the-making, thanks to the hook and the intelligent arrangement. "Still Insane" and "No Saint – No Sinner" are standouts in their own right as well. Both bring refrains that reach out and grab with authority! Through it all Andy B. Franck stands as tall as ever, thanks to the mid-range power and command of melody that isn't quite like that of any other vocalist.

"On the Spur of the Moment" is further proof that BRAINSTORM still has much to offer the world of metal. Immediately recognizable as the material these days may be, the tank ain't empty yet and the guys still keep it interesting. They'll give you just enough time between releases to start wondering about their ongoing viability and then smash any doubts to smithereens with albums like this one. Throw a dart at a board listing all of BRAINSTORM's albums as a method for choosing a place to start and you'll still end up with one that doesn't disappoint. If you're a more conventional sort, then there is no reason why you shouldn't start with "On the Spur of the Moment", as it is sounding more and more like one of the more complete albums they've released. Give 'em some love. BRAINSTORM deserves it!

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