SPV/Steamhammer [Release date 23.08.19]
Fronted by vocalist/guitarist Chris Bay, Freedom Call have been going since 1998, several line-up changes under their belt, and Bay has overseen a few changes. And this album is as great as ever.
I have championed this band ever since I was asked to review their second album ‘Crystal Empire’ (still their Magnum Opus) back in the early 00s). And celebrating their 20th Anniversary with their 10th full length studio album, the band add a new rhythm section of bassist Francesco Ferraro and drummer Timmi Breideband (although the album was recorded with live drummer Kevin Kott). Alongside them and Chris Bay is guitarist Lars Rettkowitz.
The band have experimented with gothic metal and thrash, and now moved back to their more uplifting melodic power metal roots.
Opener ’111 The Number Of The Angels’ lays down the Freedom Call trademark sound from the outset – big vocals, layered vocal harmonies, and catchy riffs. The title track is a little heavier and has a slight Manowar tongue-in-cheek style. Then ‘The Ace Of The Unicorn’ is lyrically tangential, a fantasy dream, but still a guaranteed enjoyable number. I wonder how many will chant the title track while waving their swords in the air at concerts?
The guitar work in ‘Fly With Us’ takes us back 15 years, while ‘One Step Into Wonderland’ is a classic Freedom Call fairytail.
Before you ask, or protest, Freedom Call are real and serious, and play a wonderful angle on power metal. There is a good guitar solo or two, but the overriding sound is vocal harmonies and a few guitar harmonies thrown in to boot. Bouncy, uplifting and very welcome. You can’t help smile with some of the epic chorus moments.
And given the state of the world at the moment, Freedom Call are as good, relevant and worthy as ever. And don’t forget the 2LP edition, also a CD digipak with 2 extra tracks. ****1/2
Review by Joe Geesin
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BLACK STAR RIDERS Underneath The Afterglow (Nuclear Blast)
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