Freedom Call – “M.E.T.A.L” (Steamhammer / SPV)
Battle Helm Rating
Celebrating their 20th anniversary comes the 10th album from heavenly power metallers Freedom Call! Formed by vocalist / guitarist Chris Bay (a self confessed ‘light person’) and Gamma Ray drummer Dan Zimmermann, who incidentally makes a special guest appearance on “M.E.T.A.L” performing as a double drummer alongside recording sticksman Kevin Kott (Masterplan) (!), Freedom Call’s unashamed message of positivity, love and hope inherent in its music and words will no doubt be as seen as something of a contradiction to the more common perceptions (no matter how unfounded) of metal. Indeed, the album’s title is tongue in cheek, not to the derision of fans or to the genre, but rather to acknowledge their own brand of anthemic melodic metal, which after so many years has built the band an impressive loyal following. So, as you might expect, the 11 tracks on “M.E.T.A.L” simply ooze light and joy, so much so that many of them are easily comparable to the songs on the band’s 1999 debut “Stairway To Fairyland”. Indeed, the cryptic lyrical and musical references to it on tracks like ‘111’ and ‘The Ace Of The Unicorn’ are no coincidence given Bay’s birth date being the same as the number of angels in western esotericism! Mysticism aside though, this is one helluva release whether or not you’re a fan of the band, with absolutely massive melodies that will hold you starstruck before the undeniable love in their grooves just melts your heart while simultaneously rocking you out with power – I mean, nobody said these guys were lightweights! Bay has equally recruited an exciting new band in guitarist Lars Rettkowitz and Italian bassist Francesco Ferraro, both of whom show their true measure by gelling splendidly with Freedom Call’s DNA to ensure that speed, moving atmospheres and boundless amounts of enthusiasm continue to stretch emotions – not to mention neck muscles! It’s all over tracks like ‘Spirit Of Daedalus’, with its fast dazzling guitar melodies, pumping keys and blurring double bass drums that lead up to an incredibly soaring singalong chorus backed by bountiful heavenly choirs and not forgetting a blinding neo classical solo – utter bliss. Then there’s ‘Sail Away’, by no means fast at all, but with its massive guitars and big choirs adding huge atmospherics into a very classy and catchy mix of rock, prog and metal, all to the flowing tender vocals of Bay, has an appeal all to itself showing the band are no one trick pony. Taking it right back to those early days though is the aptly titled ‘Days Of Glory’, fast-ish with the double drummer double bass beat although it’s once again the huge but tender melodies that as always capture the heart, uplifting and leading to a soaring harmony chorus that I’d dare anyone to deny. Happy. Clappy. Even cheesy. But there’s no denying the continuing appeal of Freedom Call even after all these years!