Brainstorm – Metus Mortis
Next up in the Brainstorm discography we have one of my personal favorites from the band; the mighty Metus Mortis. For my money, and as quality as their previous releases were, I would say this is where Brainstorm 100% nailed the sound they would become renowned for amongst their power metal peers.
This was the second album with Andy B Franck handling vocals, and if he was great on Ambiguity, then he is stupendous on Metus Mortis. He sounds proud and confident, and the vocal lines he laid down here were the likes of which he would continue using over the rest of his career. His layered vocals in the choruses are one of his choice tricks these days, and I’d say here is where he nailed the formula. I’d also say this was where I first started to notice the post-Mustaine snarl to his delivery in all its glory (see “Behind” for a good example of this).
The band underwent slight streamlining, which served as nothing but a benefit. There were a good few tracks on Ambiguity which were in need of trimming, and here we see everything great about Brainstorm tightly packaged into twelve superb cuts (unless you have one of the special editions with bonus tracks, I don’t). Despite streamlining, the band hasn’t sacrificed even the slightest of their established integrity, energy, or heaviness. If anything, the focus shown here on Metus Mortis did nothing but favors for the lads.
Performance and production are sublime here on Metus Mortis. As stated earlier, Andy’s vocals show him claiming his throne of awesome, but the rest of the band really busts their asses too. The rhythm section is thick and pounding, with loads of fast double kicking when called for, as well as some slick bass lines. There are some slight keys and orchestral moments in certain places which always hit their mark and would become a lot more important on the next album. The guitar work is brilliant, showing restraint when necessary, and blowing your mind when not. I seriously cannot stress just how excellent of a guitar team Torsten Ihlenfeld and Milan Loncaric make. They’ve been slugging it out since 1989 and it really shows: their dual guitar parts are so well done, and they have a unique take on the double guitar team approach.
Some of the best songs Brainstorm ever penned are housed here on Metus Mortis, as well as and including some of their heaviest numbers. Okay, deep breath: “Blind Suffering”, “Shadowland”, “Checkmate In Red”, “Hollow Hideaway”, “Into The Never”, “Behind”, “Meet Me in the Dark” and “Strength of Will” standout as absolute killing highlights. Yeah, pretty much the entire album. Each of those tracks feature either skull fracturing full-speed-ahead madness, massive hooks, or face-melting guitar solos, and in some cases you get it all. I can guarantee this is some of the most bad ass music to fly under the power metal flag. Even the tracks I didn’t mention are still a cut above filler.
Sometimes it’s hard to review albums you hold dear, and I hate to come across as bumbling or overtly positive in places, but I can tell you this; had I just heard this album a week ago I’d probably be saying the same thing. If you’re new to Brainstorm, then start RIGHT here, as it’s up there with the best of their albums. Highly recommended!
Chris’ rating 4.5 out of 5