Freedom Call - Beyond (SPV/Steamhammer)

An exhilharating reminder of just how exciting good power metal can be...
Release Date: 
24 Feb 2014 (All day)

I never used to believe in resurrection. Especially when it comes to bands. So few acts successfully recover from a slump, especially it seems in the competitive (and over saturated) world of Euro power metal, that I’ve become used to sad resignation whenever one of my favourite bands takes a dip in the quality of their output.

But, already this year, first Primal Fear and now fellow Germans Freedom Call have dragged themselves fom the brink with career-saving albums. Freedom Call have, for me, been in terminal decline since the high water mark of 2002’s Eternity. I was lucky enough to see them on that tour, at the Bloodstock Festival when that was a one day event – and indoors to boot!- when they gave the likes of Blind Guardian and Diamond Head a bloody nose with their ebullient tunes of glory. Since then, though, it seems to me to have been a case of diminishing returns with every subsequent release. 

But a favourite band is a favourite band, and so, when the call came from head office to review this latest effort from Chris Bay and company I heeded the (freedom) call, even after declaring in these very pages that I wasn’t going to waste my time listening to third-rate power metal this year. And blow me down… if this isn’t the very best album from the band since the famed Eternity. Quite simply, Freedom Call have never sounded this good, churning out song after song (14 in total) of joyous, fist pumping melodic power metal that really only they can when they’re on song.

It’s hard to know where to begin with so much quality metal on offer, so I’ll outline my three personal highlights: Opener Union of the Strong, a furious, melody-laded patent Freedom Call headbanger with an insanely catchy refrain that exhorts the listener to jump! And carry on! Repeatedly. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but you want to join in anyway, preferably brandishing a foaming stein in the general direction of whatever it is we’re singing about. Heady, infectious stuff it is, and no mistake; Follow Your Heart, another catchy, singalongabay anthem that really brings to mind early Gamma Ray in it’s exuberant, summery swagger and relentlessly cheerful ‘sing-with-us!’ bonhomie. I’m smiling just typing about it! Finally penultimate track Colours of Freedom is a real eye-opener; It’s a Freedom Call song, obviously, but it has a real modern, almost alt.rock feel to it’s synthed up, slightly melancholic refrains that bring a welcome new aspect to the band’s songwriting. It’s almost like Snow Patrol were given one of the band’s songs to re-imagine and this is what they came up with. Not necessarily a nice thought, but a great result, let me assure you!

Original bassist Ilker Ersin has returned for this album, his since in the Freedom Call colours since 2005’s The Circle of Life, and though it would be foolish to credit his return entirely with this upturn in the band’s fortunes, he must surely have had a big part to play in this splendid return to form. I hope he’s still there next time the band records, because if they improve on Beyond then it’s certainly an album I’ll be queuing up to hear! But for now I’ll content myself with this near-perfect piece of power metal majesty. Full marks!