The German heavy metal masters are at it again with yet another puncher in Midnight Ghost. From the very start of the disc, we’re already reminded of the band’s potent vocal end as “Devil’s Eye” jumps right into it. A crushing display of guitar and vocal works to remind us why Brainstorm are still a noteworthy German metal act several years later, with a hard-hitting chorus and some unexpected experimentation this time around.
A hefty ballad comes in right after, as slightly proggy leads open up yet another powerful chorus line, and the listener can already discern that these guys are definitely switching things up a bit. A bit of piano and other symphonics join the party with “Ravenous Minds,” another pummeler, though with a touch of class in addition to it’s familiar grooves.
The record is also chock full of brilliant guitar solos too, so don’t think that they skimped on those this time around. “The Pyre” has a delightful power/thrash vibe, with refreshingly hungry drumming and yet another memorable chorus. I’m telling you folks, if you’re looking for a great sing-a-long band, Brainstorm hardly disappoint on that end, and you’re guaranteed to get those earworms stuck in your head.
Some have called them “The German Nickelback,” but I don’t think that’s fair, as these guys have far too much power metal influence in them and generally more classic heavy metal and thrash sections than Roadrunner’s golden goose ever would have considered. To me, it’s almost an insult to categorize a band like this in the same place as those pop/rockers, especially considering such a fiery cut as I’m jamming right now.
Another point of interest would be “Jeanne Boulet (1764),” which is the band’s attempt to write a more epic piece in the vein of Iced Earth’s “Damien” or “Dante’s Inferno.” The track length here is nearly eight minutes, and as you may expect for such an atmosphere, thick orchestration flows in the background of powerful groove riffs, folky acoustics, thunderclaps, and what could be described as stereophonic soundscapes. But don’t worry, because they didn’t forget the solo, and the song is still headbang-worthy.
“Divine Inner Ghost” offers another sparkling moment where the chorus once again especially shines. “When Pain Becomes Real” seems to meld classic metal riffs with a little bit of prog to offer almost a completely different take to Brainstorm altogether. Not bad, gentlemen.
“Four Blessings” continues that notion of a memorable chorus, as “Haunting Voices” stacks a bit more structure onto the Brainstorm formula, along with an extra helping of thunder. I have a feeling that this cut will get some major recognition, and it should be used as a single, just because it shows such an evolved side to the band’s sound, almost reminding me of some of their early efforts. The record ends with “The Path,” which is a wonderful ballad to throw at the very edge, complete with an absurdly catchy chorus and a noteworthy “ballad solo.” I’m perfectly fine with this as a closing moment and feel that fans will enjoy it as well.
All in all, I feel that Midnight Ghost is a definite step in the right direction, especially after the band’s last output left me a bit confused. It feels like the guys regained their focus on this one, and with reinforced song structures as well as pleasant experimentation, not to mention those same memorable choruses that will be in your head for weeks long after, I would definitely consider it to be one of the band’s more solid efforts.
If you jumped off the Brainstorm ship after the least album, now might be a good time to hop back on, because this is the sound that we know and love from the guys. Definitely give the disc a listen if you love Brainstorm or power metal in general, because Midnight Ghost is definitely a spirit that you’ll want sticking around.