Posts Tagged ‘Freedom Call’

The_savage_poetryEdguy were in an interesting position at the turn of the millennium. Starting the group as a bunch of wide-eyed teenagers in the early to mid ’90s, Tobias Samet and the rest of the boys who would go on to become legends of German Melodic Power Metal, were initially a rough an ready influences-worn-on-sleeves kinda band. They released a demo quality debut album called Savage Poetry in 1995 and then through years of practice and touring went on to become a leading force in Power Metal and one of the finest to be doing it at the time. After releasing their absolute magnum opus Theater Of Salvation in 1999 and being considerably more famous and beloved, fans kept asking if they would reissue Savage Poetry which had long since been out of print. Doing them one better, the band took all the talent, skills and confidence they’d been developing over the years and remade the album. No reissued, not re-recorded, but remade entirely.

Everything is different here, new artwork, new logo, new track order, new guitar solos, heck even the bassist and drummer are new when you think about it as neither were on the original version. They added a ‘The’ to the title as well, that’s new. Essentially, what happened was the band listened to these old songs and then wrote them again in 1999 as only the band who had released Theater Of Salvation could have. What resulted was a mix of old and new, that ticks all the right boxes to sound classic and modern, naive and accomplished, charming and sophisticated. There’s a duality to it that works as well as your go to metaphor (be that chocolate and peanut butter, tits and dragons or whatever people are saying these days, the point is the two compliment each-other despite seeming like different worlds).

For most people this is just some handy background information for a pub quiz however because unless you go out of your way, you aren’t hearing the 1995 version easily and the differences between the two versions are therefore largely academic. Regardless, because this is Edguy in 1999 we’re talking about here, this is an absolutely superb album not to be missed by Edguy fans, or indeed anyone with an interest in this style of music. If you listen to Gamma Ray, Helloween, Hammerfall, Blind Guardian, Freedom Call, Sonata Arctica, Stratovarius or anyone of that nature, you really want to get up on this album. I would be so bold as to say The Savage Poetry is either the band’s second best, or sometimes if I’m feeling generous, joint-first best studio album.

There are a lot of similarities between this and Theater Of Salvation. They were both recorded around the turn of the millennium at Rhoen Studios in Fulda, Germany, and were both self produced by the band, with the same line-up. They both feature a mixture of Maiden and Priest influenced speed metal sections, bombastic grandiose sections with pianos and choral singing, and then some occasional ballads, and happy Helloween-influenced melodies. They both come before the band went a bit more Hard Rock in direction and they both come before the band started letting their humour play a big part.

Highlights include the speedier more metallic tracks ‘Sacred Hell’ and ‘Misguiding Your Life’ as well as the slow stompy Hammerfall-esque opener ‘Hallowed’ and possibly best of all, the diverse multi-faceted ten-minute ‘Eyes Of The Tyrant.’

The album works really well from start to finish, the two ballads break things up (and are surprisngly tasteful), the longer tracks take you on a little journey and then the rest of the album gets its head down and delivers exactly what you love about the band perfectly, only with a little bit more of a NWOBHM gallop than usual.

Overall; be sure not to miss out on one of the band’s absolute finest hours. If you like the glorious melodic guitar lines, crunchy riffs and pounding drums of Edguy at their most metallic, this is seriously up there as one of the finest examples of that. If you like the band being adventurous and writing long complex stuff, that’s here too. If you like them when they drop some ballads, these are some of the band’s best. If you’re tempted by the band but scared off by the more commercial Hard Rock stuff or the comedy stuff there’s none of that here. This is the band at their best, with some damn fine songs and a sterling production job, updating some charming old songs into an absolute beast of an album. Highly recommended!

Freedom Call – Dimensions

Freedom Call released one of the Power Metal subgenre’s absolute finest albums with their seminal debut album, Stairway To Fairyland… a flowery, melodic, ridiculously happy spin on the Keeper Of The Seven Keys formula that rivalled the likes of genre milestones such as Somewhere Far Beyond, the aforementioned Keeper’ and Glory To The Brave in terms of quality and enjoyability.

Five albums into their career, several line-up changes later, in 2007, the German band released the concept album Dimensions. It saw something of a stylistic shift. Each of their previous albums was an evolution of the sound that came before, but this was the biggest and most pronounced change to date. The Freedom Call sound could always sort of be seen as sort of analogous to Keepers era Helloween, or Land Of The Free era Gamma Ray, but on this album they seem to be going for the sound of the big Derris-fronted commercial singles… y’know, tracks like ‘Live Now,’ ‘Mrs God’ and ‘Mr Torture’ … those sorts of commercial, Hard Rock meets Power Metal tunes, that aren’t so speedy or virtuosic or metallic, make a lot of appearances on Dimensions. The songs ‘Mr. Evil,’ ‘The Queen Of My World’ and ‘Blackened Sun’ are particularly noteworthy examples of this.

Change their style they may have done, but let up in quality they clearly refused to. Dimensions is a pretty strong album. ‘Magic Moments’ for example is equal to anything on their early records, it may have a strange The Cure’s Love Cats sort of feel to it, but its damn good fun!  The album closer ‘Far Away’ takes a sort of Bruce Springsteen vibe, throws in bagpipes and jumbles that all together with the Freedom Call sound… sounds like a mess in theory, but seriously, if it doesn’t make you smile when you actually hear it, you must be having a bad day!

I can see how some fans might jump ship on this album, and how some potential fans may be put off; It’s a wizards & demons themed concept album set in the future taking already flowery music and making it even more commercial and saccharin… “how cheesy can you get?” etc. …but for me it is worth the money and well worth the time. No its not brutal, no its not traditional but yes, yes it is good!

Freedom Call - The Circle Of Life

Freedom Call – The Circle Of Life

After releasing three brilliant studio albums of pure, happy-sounding Melodic Power Metal between 1999-2002, the German band Freedom Call decided to spice things up a little bit. Consequently; their fourth studio album, 2005’s The Circle Of Life is something of a transitional affair, seeing the band keep one foot in the early sound that defined them, and stepping out towards their Hard Rock influenced sound of their later material.

The Circle Of Life features more keyboards and less guitars during verses for example. The keyboard sounds used are less piano-sounding and more artificial and ‘80s sounding. The tempos are frequently more midpaced than the focus on speed the band had previously. The production is that little bit slicker and more commercial. Every song sounds like a single.

It could be easy to call this album a sell-out or overproduced or something along those lines, if it weren’t for the fact that its brilliant. Yes, The Circle Of Life sees Freedom Call experimenting with new ideas rather than rehashing their beginnings, but doing so without compromising on quality. If you like Power Metal bands’ big singles more than the thrashier deep cuts then this is a perfect album for you.

I guess “new ideas” is a relative term though, as ‘The Gathering’ may sound like something off of Emerson Lake & Palmer’s Works album and ‘Kings & Queens’ may blatantly steal the riff from Ozzy Osbourne’s Bark At The Moon. Regardless, The Circle Of Life sees the band in fine form, delivering fine songs. Its shinier, more polished and more varied… but in a way that makes you think of the word “mature” rather than “mistake.”

Highlights include the stomping ‘Hero Nation’ which has a fun marching feel and some of Chris Bay’s most evocative vocals to date, as well as the fun album opener ‘Mother Earth’ which doesn’t sound like your average Freedom Call tune and the album-closing Title Track. Well, that could just as easily be anything in the second half… This albums got that thing that Eternity had, were it just gets better as it goes on!

Overall; The Circle Of Life is a damn strong, damn enjoyable album. It isn’t a clone of the seminal debut Stairway To Fairyland, but its equally worth your attention. Turns out the band are great at more than one style. Great band, Great album. Check it out.

After two fantastic records, guitarist Sascha Gerstner left the German Melodic Power Metal band Freedom Call to join the subgenre’s legendary grandfathers Helloween. No one could blame him for such a good career move, but what would this mean for Freedom Call? Sometimes losing a guitar player can really damage a band, but Freedom Call didn’t fall into that trap here. Turns out, fans need not have worried. Mainman Chris Bay and Drummer Dan Zimmerman (of Gamma Ray fame) so embody the core Freedom Call sound that it didn’t shake things up too much.

Eternity, the band’s third full-length opus, still boasts the same standard of guitar work as its predecessor. It’s a real guitar hero record in fact. Elsewhere; It still has the same almost-too-sickly-sweet style, the same sense of cheesy fun and it really is the logical successor to the two records that preceded it. There’s a few surprises to be found, such as an almost Cradle Of Filth sounding moment at one point, but for the most part this is your typical Freedom Call music (and thankfully so). If you like the band’s previous work then make sure to pick up a copy of Eternity too.

The kind of Metal fan who scowls at Dragonforce isn’t going to find much to hang onto here, but if you love Melodic European Power Metal this is definitely a great album for your collection, and one you will continue listening to beyond just the initial purchase-high. Chocked full of melody, harmony, and very major key, this is happy sounding, clean, pleasant Metal for people in a good mood.

Interestingly, while most albums are usually quite top-heavy with all the best songs at the front end, Eternity keeps getting better as it unfolds, with most of the real gems towards the back of the record. Highlights include ‘Warriors’ ‘Eyes Of The World’ ‘Land Of Light’ and ‘Island Of Dreams.’ The combination of Chris’ songwriting, Dan’s playing talent and the slick production (also courtesy of Chris Bay) makes for some seriously palatable Power Metal.

If you like this sort of music, check this band out. If you like this band, definitely don’t skip Eternity, its absolutely worth your time and attention.

Freedom Call - Crystal EmpireThe German Melodic Power Metal band Freedom Call’s second full-length studio album, 2001’s Crystal Empire, feels very much like a continuation of their seminal debut album Stairway To Fairyland. Its got the same thunderous double-kicks, the same joyous uplifting choruses and the same tasteful lead guitar lines. Once again it was produced by Charlie Bauerfeind, who has worked with almost every Power Metal great you’d care to name.
Mainman Chris Bay has a tremendous vocal skill with a huge range, a lot of power and a real ear for melody… and that’s on top of the already excellent musical skills. The effortless sounding guitar lines stick in your head, the occasional chunky riffs that break things up, these things really elevate the album from just another face in the crowd to something noteworthy.
If you are into bands like Stratovarius, Blind Guardian, Edguy, Hammerfall or especially Gamma Ray and Helloween (and this album does feature guitar from Helloween’s Sacha Gerstner and drums from Gamma Ray’s Dan Zimmermann) then Freedom Call are a band that are seriously worth checking out. They are talented, passionate and consistent. They deliver exactly what you want… happy sounding Power Metal full of melody, bombast and mythical lyrics. The band have been described before as the world’s happiest sounding Power Metal band so you can imagine a sort of ballpark sound from that description alone. Have you ever heard someone describe Power Metal bands as ‘Glorious Victorious’ ? Well that is the actual chorus to ‘Call To Fame.’

Compared to their debut, this is a pretty similar affair. Its slightly more polished, slightly less complex and more commercial, but more or less in the exact same style, which is good news as their debut was absolutely fantastic. Clear production, excellent musicianship, stellar vocals and a general consistency and lack of weak tracks make this an essential purchase for anyone interested in the band. Add to that some genuinely enjoyable songs and you’ve got a bit of a rager on your hands.

Overall; if you like the band, get this album. If you haven’t heard the band but might like to, try this album. Highlights include: The concert baiting ‘Farewell,’ as well as the hugely enjoyable trio of ‘Call Of Fame,’ ‘Ocean’ and ‘Palace Of Fantasy.’ Check these out if you want to hear what the album is like.

Freedom Call – Stairway To Fairyland

If you are at all interested in Melodic European Power Metal, then you seriously have to give Germany’s Freedom Call some attention. For anyone who’s bought Keeper Of The Seven Keys, Land Of The Free, Visions and Somewhere Far Beyond and is now wondering “Where Next?” I personally feel the answer is Stairway To Fairyland.

Stairway To Fairyland, as if you couldn’t already tell purely by that name, is the kind of super uplifting, happy sounding, positive, major key Power Metal that puts a smile on the listener’s face. The kind of thing that scowling naysayers would call Flower Metal. The kind of music that influenced the likes of Dragonforce. If any of that sounds good to you then you should get up on this album immediately.

The thunderous drums by Gamma Ray’s Dan Zimmermann, the tasteful pleasant guitar leads from Helloween’s Sascha Gerstner and the crystal clear production job from Power Metal Producer extraordinaire Charlie Bauerfeind (who’s worked with Angra, Blind Guardian, Primal Fear, Rage, HammerFall, Helloween and Gamma Ray) will have Power Metal enthusiast’s ears twitching with recognition and pleasure straight away. Add to that main-man Chris Bay’s immense vocal talents and brilliant attention to detail and you’ve got a serious recipe for success. The talent levels are through the ceiling.

What also makes this album great is that it isn’t just style over substance. The structuring and changes are so well thought out and the album really feels studied and brewed to perfection. There’s a feeling of craftsmanship and a better-than-the-sum-of-its-parts situation going on in a major way. There aren’t weak tracks, there aren’t weak sections and the band seem to be going for some sort of world record for most exciting choruses on a single album. Whether they achieve it is up to you, but it definitely seems like they’re doing their hardest to try.

Highlights include “Fairyland,” “We Are One” and the smile-guarantee that is the opener “Over The Rainbow.” If you wonder whether you should pick this album up, give one of those tracks a shot.

Overall; Look at the album artwork, look at the title for goodness sakes, then look at the pedigree of the creative team. If all of that is sending positive signals to your brain then dive in with both feet! If someone asked me to point them towards the happiest Metal album I’d ever heard I’d steer them in this direction. Stairway To Fairyland is a fun, satisfying, happy little fifty-five minutes of pure entertainment. It is remarkably consistent, extremely well-constructed and masterfully delivered. It flows perfectly. I fully and enthusiastically recommend anyone who is into even one of the other bands mentioned above to give this album a priority listen.