Brainstorm – Hungry
German stalwarts Brainstorm should need no introduction to any power metal fan by now, with an impressive array of records in their arsenal and featuring singer extraordinaire Andy B. Franck. Here I’m going to take you back to the very beginnings of this band, step into the Delorean with me and let’s journey back to 1997!
Brainstorm’s first full length release Hungry has always struck me as something of an anomaly in its genre. The German scene was already bustling by now with some of the finest albums the genre has seen, we had the likes of Somewhere Out In Space, Iron Savior, and Imaginations From The Other Side blowing minds, and it always came as a surprise that Brainstorm never tried to ape any of these bands, nor any of the previously established speed metal bands. This isn’t to say Brainstorm was original, but I would certainly say they were doing something different to their peers.
Brainstorm were always heavier edged than their peers, and that goes double for their earlier releases. Think a more aggressive Judas Priest ala Painkiller or even Jugulator, and blend this with a spot of post-thrash era Megadeth and we’re starting to talk Brainstorms language. There is certainly a spot of Primal Fear to be heard here too, but that should have went without saying due to the Priest comparisons. The band were a lot more guitar driven around this time too, with a lot more in the way of riffs, harmonies, leads and of course the mighty guitar solo. While I love Andy B. Franck I do feel he eventually steered the band into a more vocal orientated sound, and has lead to my waning interest in their more modern material.
Now, I’ve mentioned a certain Mr. B. Franck a couple of times now, and I’m sure those of you who are in the know are probably thinking “wait a second, Andy wasn’t even on this release”. Which would be right, back on Hungry they had Marcus Jürgens singing, who plays out like a more rabid, demented version of Andy, his high range is rather devilish and really fit the music well. However in the layered vocal parts the line between the two singers is fairly blurred, pure Brainstorm magic.
The production here is a lot bleaker than their later more polished material, and as a result really benefits the atmosphere on the album. The guitar tone packs a lot of punch and the clarity is excellent between all the instruments, all if I had to pick any fault they cymbals tend to ring out just that little too much. Tracks such as the furious “Nails In My Hands” or the menacing “Welcome To The Darkside” show the goods Hungry has to offer the best, both of which are superb examples of the Brainstorm sound that would be refined upon over their next few albums. “The Other Side” shows the bands mid-paced style, which again is something they would refine upon over the course of their career, and maybe crutch on a little more than necessary. As a bonus for all of us power metal nuts the final track “Mr. Know-It-All” has a nice guest slot from a certain Mr. Scheepers, both the vocalists play off very well together and the song is a quality romp in 80’s style power metal.
Overall Hungry is a quality start off to the career of a quality band. I’ve always felt Brainstorm have received somewhat of a raw-deal over the years and it really is undeserved. Whilst better things were to come, you could tell Brainstorm were a first class act from the get go. Whilst maybe not the greatest place to start in their discography, if you like your power metal darker and aggressive then Hungry is an album you want to get a hold of pronto.
Chris’ rating 3.75 out of 5