Dimensions by Freedom Call
Release date : April 2007
Reviewed by Anthony Morgan
German Melodic Power Metal act Freedom Call returns to the fore with fifth album Dimensions, largely recorded at FC Studios in Nuremberg, Germany. Drum parts were cut at Area 51 in Celle under the direction of Tommy Newton. Freedom Call co-founder and drummer Daniel Zimmerman has claimed the album combines the “most successful” elements from the record's two predecessors, namely 2002's Eternity and 2005's The Circle of Life respectively; “we included our penchant for fast and very melodic numbers from Eternity with a more contemporary, bombastic components of The Circle Of Life.” True? Let's find out.
Introductory track “Demons Dance” sets the tone thematically for the album as a whole, woven around a recurring beat which suggests a procession in waiting. The beat hearks back to sword and sorcery games you'd find on the oft remembered cartridge based consoles. Interspersed within the track is a majestic tune as though announcing the kings coronation which teases at grandeur several times, followed by a grand speech which loosely forms the thematic backbone of the album. Anyone hoping for a deviation from the Power Metal sound will be sadly disappointed, a statement even made by the cover artwork. Conceived by Paul Raymond Gregory, a wizard in demon ship flanked by tarot cards grace the piece - it screams Power Metal until it gasps for oxygen.
Chris Bay's voice warms to the material, and is indeed well suited to the Power Metal genre he's chosen to occupy. Restrained during the verses with semi-spoken word lyrics, soaring to crescendo levels especially reserved for the chorus. This approach of saving the voice for the chorus works since the listener wonders where the singing can actually go. Sometimes less is more, and it gives the live punters impending choruses to mime along to. On higher notes Bay does a fairly ok job, though only sometimes, the voice sounds out of its depth. Achieving those enviable higher notes only arises when the voice matures through years of toil and experience. Let's hope this happens for Bay, though the production values have done no favours. In the 21st century the vocals should sound more clear and audible, but doesnt in places. This doesn't detract from the material though. It'd be interesting to hear Bay's voice in an unfamiliar setting tackling riskier material, perhaps on a solo effort, and hearing whether the voice holds and possesses depth in other fields.
The highly melodic yet infectious style of guitar playing bears more than a passing resemblance to the territory carved into a niche by Iron Maiden's legendary axemen, The Three Amigos. Easily the album's outstanding highlight, it acts as the sturdy thread which holds the album afloat - without this edge, the imminent danger of sinking would be a real possibility. While obviously not as innovative as the The Three Amigos themselves, it proves a rather entertaining listen and a valuable asset to have. Long may that asset continue.
The album's offerings tread along a rather basic structure - meaty hooks and wholesome catches are the chosen dishes, though the bait doesn't always entice. Today's more progressive musical landscape demands the formula be constantly questioned, even if in only a small way. Progressive music can sometimes be self-indulgent and egotistical though, as the basic approach of old is never truly out of fashion. You get get the distinct impression that the mid to late 80's is their favoured era - the days when contemporary, up tempo stadium rock sprinkled with the occasional pomp ballad ruled the shores during the infancy of the MTV boom. Long, way hair down to the backside complimenting clap along lyrics about such a comic book type character like “Mr Evil” - if this sounds like your mug of tea, then come along for a drink. If Power Metal doesn't float your boat though, venture in other areas.