Freedom Call - M.E.T.A.L.

Freedom Call - M.E.T.A.L. cover
Freedom Call
M.E.T.A.L.
Steamhammer
2019
6.5
Freedom Call are a band that really began as a side project of Gamma Ray, and has since 1999 when they automagically played the largest festivals that very year, despite receiving less than flattering reviews, religiously released albums every other year or so. They are wise in following the “saying”: “Better the Devil You know” than the one the magazines didn’t bother with.
 
Singer Chris Bay has a voice that averages between Kiske and Hansen, probably closer to the later than the former. The two decades of releases have refined their power metal sufficiently, that it now sounds like a poor man’s Gamma Ray with better than Kai vocals, but that’s not saying much does it?
 
The album sports a rather silly cover, which utilities the same photo from UDO’s “Nailed to Metal” release, but is still less “ghey” than the one of their previous release “Master of Light”. Things are as the casual fan would expect, but not everybody falls to that demographic.
 
Opener “111 - The Number of Angels” is an uplifting number, which sounds like a pastiche of Helloween on a collision course with the purest Angra power metal moments. Not too bad then.
 
“Spirit of Daedalus” even puts the pedal to the metal, which should make it even nicer and it kind of it is, until Bay’s voice sort of diminishes in a weak Kai like falsetto, that sort of spoils the otherwise nice chorus.
 
“M.E.T.A.L.” (stylized with the dots) is a bad mix of Gamma Ray, with Edguy and the Village People’s “Y.M.C.A”, as this hymn to metal acrostic leaves a lot of be desired musically.
 
“The Ace of the Unicorn” initially seems to have stolen the keys from OMD’s “Enola Gay”, but it quickly transforms into a plodding mid-tempo, that only becomes interesting when it blares out “that” borrowed melody.
 
“Sail Away” feels like a mix between Deris era Helloween (down to the falsetto lingers and H.e.a.t) and isn’t so bad a tune, actually I enjoyed it more than I thought I would…
 
“Fly with Us” is Helloween double bass worship to the point where it even checks song titles in the lyrics. But it’s not exactly cut from quite the same material as that of most of Hamburg’s finest.
 
Similarly, “One Step into Wonderland” is denoted by cheery melodies and gay (colorful) keyboard sounds… to the point it makes me want to puke a Rainbow. Maybe I am exaggerating a bit, as its chorus is not that bad, but damn it’s to smallzy sweetly melodic.
 
“Days of Glory” bring some of the power back to its metal, although the polyphonic chorus, does soften things up quite a bit, before Bay name checks the band for the third time in the album? Man, I think most people will know, which band they’re listening to, you don’t have to quote it all the time.
 
“Wheel of Time” (maybe inspired by the book?) is a quite cute Gamma Ray-esque tune, with all the trademarks, that I don’t have any major gripes about. See… when it all comes together, it leaves even a hard to convince person or indeed a detractor without ammunition.
 
“Ronin” is greatly aided by its strong, beefy intro and verses, but sort of wimps out during the choruses.
 
“Sole Survivor” is actually one of the more conscious and concentrated efforts of the entire album to do symphonic metal without resorting to copy-pasting or using clichés, but the main melody is pretty close to that of a traditional tarantella, so… not too original.
 
The Japanese version adds a couple of acoustic covers “Warriors” from “Eternity”, and “Emerald Skies” from “Master of Light”… the latter of which is done in a pretty laid back, almost latin way.
 
It’s an album that could bear the title “The Lesser Key of Helloween” (a reference to a famous occult book), due to the many similarities to all things Kai. While imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the result is not exactly “that” good, so I could recommend this album only to europower freaks or established band fans. Otherwise you might be left wanting, since this is more than national rather than premiere league material.