Brainstorm - "Scary Creatures" (CD)
"Scary Creatures" track listing:
1. The World To See
2. How Much Can You Take
3. We Are...
4. Where Angels Dream
5. Scary Creatures
6. Twisted Ways
7. Caressed By The Blackness
8. Scars In Your Eyes
9. Take Me To The Never
10. Sky Among The Clouds
11. Lift Your Eyes To See
Reviewed by CROMCarl on February 3, 2016
Brainstorm has always been a really solid power metal act. However, over recent years it seems that they have fallen a bit into a stagnation rut that has plagued other German acts like Primal Fear and Mystic Prophecy – that is, the material is solid, good, pure metal – but lacks something. I haven’t quite put my finger on exactly what that is, though it seems (for whatever reason) that albums fade into white noise. Sure, every so often there is a part that grabs attention – just not enough to sustain the entirety of a song, or full album. Fortunately, with “Scary Creatures,” there is a bit more to latch onto, whether it’s the sludgy beefy power riffs or catchy choruses.
Maybe it’s a bit unfair to disparage 2014’s “Firesoul,” for “Scary Creatures” owes a ton of its sound and direction from that release. Thinking back to “Memorial Roots” (2009) and “On the Spur of the Moment” (2011), the white noise creeped in so much that my memory fails on attempts to recall the majority of the material. Like I said…I cannot put my finger on exactly what causes this because the band always delivers metal with power and punch. On “Scary Creatures” there seems to be so much more interesting parts, though. Perhaps it just hit my mood right this time around.
“How Much Can You Take” they ask? How about a shit ton on the first half of the album…because “Scary Creatures” starts off like a freight train from hell right from “The World to See” through “Twisted Ways,” with the only let up in a mid-paced title track. The song still crushes, offering the album's harshest riff bludgeon from twin axe team Milan Loncaric and Torsten Ihlenfeld. The speed and intensity of this first half is undeniable (especially in “We Are…” and “Where Angels Dream”)…as is vocalist Andy B. Franck’s low/high register, which is one of the most unique in metal making him instantly recognizable. On the flip side, Franck keeps it strictly mid to low, passing over obvious opportunities for an unsheathed blistering scream when a song is just aching for it. However, this is the style any Brainstorm fan has been used to for many years.
The real drawback of "Scary Creatures" is the repetition and diversity to sustain the songwriting throughout the entirety of the release. The intensity drops off significantly in the second half of the album, perhaps the crux of that head scratching issue mentioned earlier. “Scars in Your Eyes” has a cool riff, but it loses me in the bridge until that pause and charging chorus. “Take Me to the Never” presents a catchy riff, but sounds a bit more like a filler track compared to the rest of the release, though I did enjoy the chorus quite a bit. “Caressed By the Blackness” is the best of the second half of the release and “Sky Among the Clouds” the weakest on the album.
“Scary Creatures” – like “Firesoul” – is another solid worthy power metal release. Will it reach
the top of the heap in 2016? That remains in the judgment of the listener. Brainstorm is always prepared with power and might and this time out present material that is a bit catcher than previous releases. The ferocity of the first half of the album drops off significantly over the second half, calling into question whether this would have been a better seven song release as opposed to a ten song release. Fans of the band’s previous efforts will certainly find “Scary Creatures” a worthy release though.
Highs: First half of the album shreds...
Lows: ....but the second half loses a whole lot of intensity and does not sustain in diversity and songwriting.
Bottom line: "Scary Creatures" is a solid release with a raging blistering first half, but tapers off significantly in the second half.
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