BRAINSTORM - "AMBIGUITY" (METAL BLADE)
Wow, this is good stuff! After Jacob's Dream, released earlier this year, I think Brainstorm may be one of my most significant musical discoveries of this year so far.
And about time it is, too, what with Brainstorm having been around for well over a decade, in varying line-ups (even if their first actual CD wasn't released until 1997). Like so often, the accompanying press release concentrates on listing famous people that the band have worked with in order to create their latest, "Ambiguity", but in fact the music itself states a much stronger case.
There are 11 songs on "Ambiguity". Ten of them rock, and one of them sucks rhino...um...horn. The album starts off with the excellent "Crush Depth" and "Tear Down the Walls", which are well-written, very capably performed metal anthems. Good playing, excellent singing from their new frontman, Symphorce's Andy B. Franck. And just when you think you've got an 'ordinary' excellent album, they sonically hurl at you "Maharaja Palace", a princely track the likes of which I haven't heard in too long a time. Suffused with oriental touches and scales, this track alone would alleviate this album to full-five-bullet status. And then they do something like "Lost Unseen", which rams the album straight into something akin bullet bliss. Excellent stuff, a CD you simply have to check out. If you can't afford it, friggin' steal it or something.
But, er, what was that thing about 'sucking rhino, um, horn'? Well, there is one track that safely manages to keep the album within the five-bullet range instead of me having to go out and add a sixth bullet to the rating: A ballad entitled "Far Away" that on its own is worth buying a CD player that can remember to automatically skip a specific track. It sucks, with its cheesy piano and all the other ballad bits. It doesn't fit on the album, it's not even a good ballad, and I'd rather not spend another word on it.
Written April 2000
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