Freedom Call – “Beyond” (Steamhammer / SPV)
I’ve followed Freedom Call since the late 90s and have always had time for their uplifting brand of modern power metal. Although a little cliched for some, their passionate melodies and incredibly positive harmonies have always been inspiring and certainly give me something to hum to even on the most mundane of days. Originally formed by old friends Chris Bay and Daniel Zimmermann, to me Freedom Call have always played second fiddle to plans of Gamma Ray, and thus no real opportunity to shine in their own right. With the original band dissipating over time leaving only Bay, so too has the original spirit and whilst the material of recent releases has remained true to the band’s sound, so too has that little something that made songs from “Stairway To Fairyland” or my personal favourite “Crystal Empire” so memorable. Well, that little extra might’ve been original bassist IIker Irsin, who has now rejoined the band – and what a difference it has made! “Beyond” isn’t actually that, but more of a return to the traditional style that shone a light on me all those years ago! From the galloping majesty of ‘Knights Of Tarragon’ to the unbridled passion of ‘Paladin’, Freedom Call show their prowess whether delivering the steel or through their famed power ballads. Chris Bay’s soulful vocals remain as angelic as ever and he is backed by an army of melodies as if sent by god himself! Incredibly, there are 14 tracks on this album, but such is the flow of the arrangements that you are no sooner at the end and are ready to begin again – guess that feel good factor has returned to Freedom Call! If the title does bear any truth in it, then songs like ‘Dance Off The Devil’ show the band capable of moving into AOR territory with almost Toto like melodies, whilst ‘Beyond Eternity’ even has hints of Celtic rock in its fiery embers. Whatever the case, Freedom Call have returned by the grace of the heavens and brought hope to all once more!