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FB1964: Dreams & Nightmares

It only takes a little look at the guest list for the third FB1964 album, Dreams & Nightmares, to discover that guitarist Frank Badenhop knows his way around the metal scene. After all, anyone who can convince Anneke Van Giersbergen, Bobby (Blitz) Ellsworth, David DeFeis, Johnny Gioeli, Ronnie Romero, Becky Gaber, Chris Boltendahl, Henning Basse, Liv Jagrell and Tim (Ripper) Owens to step up to the mic for a song or two has music knowledge and a contact list to envy. And that’s only the singers, for rest assured that listing all of the other ‘names’ involved would subsequently take up almost all of the rest of this review!

Suffice to say then that with guys like Jeff Loomis (Nevermore, Arch Enemy, Sanctuary), Yiannis Papadopoulos (Scott Stapp’s band) and many more lesser known but equally gifted musicians contributing (Michael Wolpers from Running Wild being part of the ‘house band’ throughout, for example), the standard of musicianship is incredibly high and the style of each song crafted to suite - although in all honesty, that department is more about the singers’ approaches than that of anyone else. Hence it’s no surprise that this conceptual piece is planted firmly in the European metal style, with, for example, opener “Mile To Mile” more than capable of exploiting an early Helloween sound as ‘Ripper’ Owens grabs this album by the neck and gives it a rough shake. “Chaos”, on the other hand, where it’s Overkill’s Ellsworth leading the charge behind the mic, grinds and gargles like prime-time Accept.

An aspect that’s also worth mentioning here is the even spread of male and female talent and unlike most albums of this style, that’s not just in the vocal department. The aforementioned “Chaos” allowing Sophie Lloyd and Julia Kosterova to let fly on the fretboard, while Giulia Marta Vallar scythes her way through the solo on “Army Of Darkness”, where Becky Gaber (Exotoxis) adds an angular vocal melody to this unsettling journey.

In all honesty, the constant vocal hop-skip and jump, aligned to a similar scattering of guitar soloists does make an album based round the dreams and nightmares of Badenhop, somewhat disjointed as we veer from style to style and back again. And yet with everything executed to a universally high standard that issue isn’t quite the problem that it might have been. For me, I could have done without the instrumental passages that look to offer a few different flavours but even here none of them are particularly poor. The album’s title cut featuring the guitar solo work of Dethy Borchardt maybe fares best from the wordless selections as it adds pomp and circumstance, although “Mechanics”, which flits between mid-paced riffology and synthed-up layers of Lea Dieckman’s vocals, does feel a little too engineered, if you’ll pardon the pun. Add in the OTT violin outbursts from Ally Storch, which can feel a little at odds with the gritty guitar growls of “Fever” and there are a few moments where things don’t quite hit as hard as they might. And yet even the slight missteps don’t really derail proceedings to any great extent.

With all of the profits from Dreams & Nightmares going to (a charity funding the protection of rain forests, I believe) not only is this album musically well intentioned but its heart is also in the right place. For any follower of the Euro-metal scene the guest list alone should be enough to pique the interest. That the majority of this album comes close to living up to those expectations should also keep you thoroughly engaged, even if it can be a slightly uneven journey in one or two places.

Track Listing
1. Mile to Mile
2. Blood-Red Sky
3. Chaos
4. Falling Deep
5. Dreams and Nightmares
6. Fever
7. Seven Deadly Dreams
8. Guilty Conscience
9. Army of Darkness
10. Mechanics
11. Evil Awaits
12. Coming home

Added: July 11th 2020
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: FB1964 facebook page
Hits: 933
Language: english

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