Brainstorm – “Wall Of Skulls” (AFM Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Following the success of 2018’s “Midnight Ghost”, power metallers Brainstorm felt this was a turning point for themselves and their fans in many regards. Fast forward to last year and despite the pandemic, the enthusiasm in writing this thirteenth album was uncontrollable, and paradoxically, the lockdown allowed the band plenty of time to get the 11 tracks to the picture-perfect standards they were hoping for, along with having two guest vocalists for the ride in Rage’s ‘Peavy’ Wagner and Orden Ogan frontman Seeb Levermann, who also produced “Wall Of Skulls”. Together they have forged a superb release that while not deviating from the power metal formula – as intended – delivers a highly refined album of catchy material containing more powerful and fast-paced numbers than ever before. Indeed, as the chugging twin guitars of Torsten Ihlenfeld and Milan Loncaric bang out the catchy riffs accompanied by exciting melodies on ‘My Dystopia’, drummer Dieter Bernert hammers his toms while slickly rolling his double bass beats as Andy B. Franck provides the epic spirit to raise the heartbeat towards the soaring singalong chorus – fantastic! Double bass blasting in with wailing tremolo on ‘Stigmatized (Shadows Fall)’, Franck sends the passions racing through his red-blooded soul in the memorable chorus as Ihlenfeld and Loncaric trade off punchy riffs and solos along with more chugging to definitely get the headbanging going on this one. Hammering in on ‘I, The Deceiver’ the mix of heaviness and deep melodies is perfect while being uniformly catchy with plenty of turns to keep the song exciting as Franck goes higher to contrast the band’s lower backing vocals in yet another example of a well-polished song that does the band proud. Thirteen may be considered an unlucky number to many people, but for Brainstorm, “Wall Of Skulls” continues the winning streak from “Midnight Ghost” in splendid fashion!