Brainstorm – Memorial Roots

September 7, 2012 in Artist Rewind, Reviews by Chris Foley

Memorial Roots

Here we have Brainstorm’s eighth full-length release Memorial Roots. I actually reviewed this album a couple of years ago when it first came out, so it’s pretty interesting to come back to this one and see how I feel almost three years later. I actually remember saying to myself a few weeks after having finished the first review that I liked the album a good deal better than I said I did.

One thing I will say, and this rings true for how I’ve always felt about Memorial Roots, is that it is one which seriously benefits from repeated listens. The hooks require uncovering like buried treasure, and as a whole the release does require a certain degree of work. Of course, this is all subjective to the individual listener, but on a personal account I’d say this is one of those albums that becomes finer with each listen.

In comparing Memorial Roots to the previous album, Downburst, the production is rather different. Where as Downburst was slick, glossy, and almost mechanical in places, Memorial Roots is earthen and natural, which is something that had turned me off a little. Of course, palettes change over the years, and today I can say that I might have made something of a slight oversight. I’m holding my hands up on this one, as I’ve come to love the natural vibe to the production here.

Strangely enough, Miro and Sascha Paeth were responsible for production, mixing, and mastering on Memorial Roots. I find this a slight weird as I’ve mentioned them a few times over during this rewind and feel of any of Brainstorm’s releases, this album would be the one I would least associate with their style. Or, I could turn everything around on its head: If you recall, in the Soul Temptation review, I stated that album was a product of it’s time, Kamelot, yada yada. Well, in another five years or so we could very well look back to Memorial Roots and see this album as a product of its time, as the production here is similar to the likes of modern Avantasia and Edguy a la Tinnitus Sanctus. It’s a thinker!

Anyway, enough of the crazy talk, let’s get to the meat of Memorial Roots. The album is a collection of eleven very well-conceived and serious songs. The band functions as a tight, cohesive unit without any member taking too much of the spotlight. The vocal lines are graceful and introspective. Songs such as “The Conjuration of 7 Planets”, “The Final Stages of Decay”, and “Would You” have over the last few years become some of my favourite from the band. Brainstorm has tried tracks like these over their career, but never have they been as well done as they were here. The heavier style tracks the band are renowned for don’t hit as hard on Memorial Roots as they could, which is because of the production, but it works and doesn’t really detract as much from the album as I once thought.

Memorial Roots is a highly consistent release, and I think it ushered in a new outlet for Brainstorm. The band has always been serious business, but never have they sounded as mature as they do here. Memorial Roots is certainly a curious album, and I would say this one is best reserved for someone who is familiar with the band; someone who is willing to invest time into uncovering the wealth of hidden treasure on offer. The album isn’t perfect, and those who prefer their power metal to be fast, glossy, and saccharine might find themselves a little underwhelmed with Memorial Roots. The final verdict is a powerful grower of an album, which requires a good deal of inspection.

Chris’ rating 4.0 out of 5