Freedom Call - "Beyond" (CD)
"Beyond" track listing:
1. Union Of The Strong
2. Knights Of Taragon
3. Heart Of A Warrior
4. Come On Home
6. Among The Shadows
7. Edge Of The Ocean
8. Journey Into Wonderland
9. In The Rhythm Of Light
10. Dance Off The Devil
12. Follow Your Heart
13. Colours Of Freedom
14. Beyond Eternity
Reviewed by CROMCarl on February 24, 2014
“It’s rehashed.” “It’s been done before.” “It’s getting old.” “It’s disgustingly happy.” “Oh my god, I want to shiv myself.” These are just but a few of the complaints fans raised when Freedom Call was announced for the recent 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise. A push back from fans has this ability to swing my opinion in the opposite direction to the point where a rational thought upon reviewing music might be compromised. After all, “Sign of the Crimson Dawn” was both phenomenal and a titanic disappointment; it had the best songs the band ever wrote alongside the worst they ever wrote. So despite the wave of negative opinions surrounding the band’s appearance at 70K, my opinion of Freedom Call has never wavered…it has been one of the catchiest and most endearing power metal bands for years. One album with half assed hard rock was not going to change that. Plus, with bassist Ilker Ersin back in the fold,”Beyond” had all the making of a return to form, and low and behold – it was!
It is no secret that guitarist/vocalist Chris Bay loves life and loves being positive about it. So, knowing this, the success of Freedom Call’s “Beyond” is directly tied to a fan’s tolerance of “happy metal.” For those unfamiliar with the band, Freedom Call was originally created by Bay and former Gamma Ray drummer Dan Zimmerman (who has since departed). Sonically, Freedom Call is Gamma Ray at its happiest….doubled. Expect sing-a-long choruses, the occasionally blinding keyboards, but all extremely contagious. Try to envision Gamma Ray with Saigon Kick harmonies.
So before diving in…let’s engage in the time honored elitist tradition of pre-judging an album by the song titles, shall we? Right away “Union of the Strong,” “Heart of a Warrior” and “Knights of Taragon” strike me as Freedom Call winners (I am a “Caller” you know). Ahh, “Come on Home” and “Dance Off the Devil” look a little dodgy….might need to leave those alone.
“Union of the Strong” is a powerful opener and statement about “Beyond,” though I admit I was fooled a bit with “Age of the Phoenix” on “Land of the Crimson Dawn.” Right off the bat, that happy sing-a-long style was in full force and this track easily will be a winner in live shows. “Knights of Taragon” starts with a trademark Freedom Call chorus and all seems right on track. The style is a tad heavier, recalling great albums like “Crystal Empire” and “The Circle of Life.” I must give kudos for the riff at 2:47, a nice, mid-paced crunchy style just before the captivating bridge to the solo. It continues on “Heart of a Warrior,” and it seems like the “Rockin’ Radio” type tracks are delightfully missing.
“Come on Home” is right on par with “Land of the Free” era Gamma Ray, especially with the “bang your head or die” and “get up, have a hellish time” lines. "Beyond” is a throwback album of sorts for Freedom Call, with highly memorable “sing-songy” tracks that I expect to hear from the band. Again, it is all about tolerance levels for what many will find to be “cheesy happy” power metal and my level is pretty damn high. Nowhere is that limit tested more than on “Journey Into Wonderland” and “In the Rhythm of Light,” though the latter almost sounds like Twisted Sister’s “The Beast” on the verses (it’s quite uncanny). Still, no one can question just how memorable this all is. Picking a favorite is easy, as the title track “Beyond” rivals “66 Warriors” as one of the best tracks written by the band.
Those fans turned off by the light hearted, hard rock direction on half of “Land of the Crimson Dawn” will be pleased at the re-addition of bassist/writer Ilker Ersin and a return to the happy, but heavier, power metal of Freedom Call’s past. This album is exactly as it should be: a collection of feel good sing-a-long metal songs that will make Freedom Call’s live show even more engaging. Well done!
Highs: The return of heavier happy power metal!
Lows: Happy metal doesn't seem to have appeal for the more serious of fans.
Bottom line: Freedom Call takes an older formula and goes "beyond" content!
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