With Iron Maiden and Judas Priest becoming rather stale these days, it's refreshing to hear a band like Brainstorm, which has actually been around in one form or another since 1989. Metus Mortis, the German quintet's fourth album, is a slab of pure heavy metal unadorned with hip-hop influences, outlandish egos and references to warriors and dragons – even though you'd never guess that by looking at the album cover. Rather, this fast and furious feast features introspective songs in which singer Andy B. Franck (who is also the vocalist in Symphorce) wonders "What do we need and where do we go/When we get where we don't know" on "Under Lights," and rhymes "fixture" with "picture" in "Meet Me In the Dark."
In addition to the band's lack of cornball pretentiousness and gimmickry, Brainstorm's appeal rests with Franck, whose low-range voice echoes the deeper ranges of Bruce Dickinson and Rob Halford while also taking on dimensions of its own. When the backing vocals of guitarists Torsten Ihlenfeld and Milan Loncaric take wing, Brainstorm's music resounds with a worldly wallop for which more metal bands should strive. The rhythm section of bassist Andreas Mailander and drummer Dieter Bernert is so precise that it often resembles the sound of a helicopter in full flight.
How refreshing it is to see Metal Blade release both Metus Mortis and its predecessor, Ambiguity, amidst its roster of death metal, power metal and prog metal bands. In an increasingly fragmented metal universe, Brainstorm are establishing themselves as a new voice of traditional heavy metal.