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Freedom Call
Stairway to Fairyland
April 2000
Released: 1999, Steamhammer/SPV
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Joe

Ever since I’d read that Dan Zimmermann (drummer, Gamma Ray/Iron Savior) had joined Freedom Call, I have to say that I was more than just a little curious to hear them. And knowing that Zimmermann actually gave up his Iron Savior gig for Freedom Call made me even more anxious to hear something by them. If he left a great band like Iron Savior, then Freedom Call must be great too, right? So after searching the web in vain for some time in hopes of finding a non-existent sound sample (If sound samples of Freedom Call are available, I have no idea where they might be located...), I finally broke down and ordered it. Normally I don’t like to buy CD’s without hearing a sample or two first, but I figured that during the time I’d spent looking for soundclips and MP3's, I had accumulated enough interest on my bank account to pay for it anyway.

This must be my lucky week because not only did I win a baseball cap at a 3M products seminar a couple of nights ago, but as it turns out, I freakin’ LOVE this CD!!! Since receiving Stairway... five days ago, it’s only left my CD player long enough to listen to Sonata Arctica’s Ecliptica once (And Sonata Arctica is pretty darn good!). I haven’t listened to a disc so many times in a row since I got Virgin Steele’s Invictus around five or six weeks ago.

Much of the material is in the vein of Gamma Ray and Keeper... era Helloween, with a little Sanvoisen and older Crimson Glory mixed in as well. Lots of speedy guitar riffing and double-bass drumming layered with very melodic and tasteful soloing. Frontman Chris Bay’s (who also plays guitar and keyboards) voice sounds like a mix of Kai Hansen and Michael Kiske with a touch of Midnight (ex-Crimson glory) thrown in for good measure. Guitarist Sascha Gerstner and bassist Ilker Ersin perform the Bay and Zimmermann penned material with both skill and ease. And Zimmermann’s drumming doesn’t really need any comment... If you’re familiar with Gamma Ray and Iron Savior then you already know it’s GODLY.

The CD also happens to be a concept album which tells the tale of the destroyed land of Taragon, whose surviving inhabitants now wander the wastelands in search of Fairyland (ie: the promised land). In a nutshell, it’s the story of the Hebrews escape from Egypt as if written by Tolkien. Everything on the disc is great, especially "Over the Rainbow" (which opens the CD with a church organ intro before diving into the song), "Fairyland", "We Are One", "Tears of Taragon", and the closing track "Another Day". The only song that doesn’t hold up very well is "Hymn to the Brave". It’s just too "happy" sounding for my tastes.

So if you like speedy European power metal with big, anthemic choruses, melodic leads, and high-pitched vocals, then you should probably check this disc out. And if it turns out that you don’t like it... Don’t blame me.

Next review: » Freedom Call - The Circle of Life
Previous review: » Freedom Call - Master Of Light

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