Spirit of Freedom
Released: 2001, MTM Music
Reviewer: Michael De Los Muertos
I want everyone to take notice of this review! Given my recent track record, many of you may think that I’ve never met a power metal album I didn’t like. Well, here I am to prove that I’m not totally biased in favor of power metal – for here’s a big, slick, splashy, big-budget European power metal release, pretty much guaranteed to be good, and I’m going to give it a mediocre review.
Taraxacum is a new German power metal band featuring Tobias Exxel and Felix Bohkne, the bassman and skinsman (respectively) of Edguy, which is probably one of the best power metal bands in history. Good pedigree? It gets better – Kai Hansen (Helloween, Gamma Ray) mixed the album and it’s obviously his style. Why, then, is SPIRIT OF FREEDOM so lackluster? I can’t quite figure it out. While the second listen to this did more for me than the first, I can’t escape the conclusion that, despite its technical brilliance, this is an album without a soul.
Things start out reasonably melodic and mid-tempo with the title track. Vocalist Rick Mythiasin sounds, at first blush, almost exactly like Tobias Sammet of Edguy. Unfortunately things never really progress out of mid-tempo, and starting with the second track, “Blast Off,” Mythiasin starts slipping into outrageously high, King Diamond-style vocals. Trivia question: name the only band Los Muertos ever liked with King Diamond vocals! Hint: Slauter Xstroyes, and unfortunately Taraxacum isn’t it. The engines never do heat up, but actually shift downward for the third song, “Alone,” whose opening twangles along like a Gathering song, and hackneyed lyrics (“Here I stand beside my window, gazing at the rain…”) leach most of the interest out of this song after the first thirty seconds. To its credit, the album attempts to be a little less power-metally from there on out, featuring some riffs that were obviously meant to sound a little rawer and more greasy than your typical well-produced power metal stuff. But, unfortunately, it’s an effort to really get excited about anything that’s here. Sure, it’s very well-done, well-written, and well-played, but nobody seems to be having any fun.
It’s very hard to diagnose the problem with this album. I can’t point to shoddy guitars, poor production, or even sloppy songwriting, which is a particular pet peeve of mine. Except when he’s imitating the King, I really don’t have that much of a problem with Rick Mythiasin. But this album never charmed me throughout its whole nine tracks, and I turned it off with a very disappointed feeling.
Tragic! I’ll be the first to line up for an Edguy side project – this year’s AVANTASIA, for instance, is probably the best album to come out so far this year – but I’m not sure I’ll be re-enlisting for Taraxacum’s next tour of duty. If these guys crank up the emotional intensity quite a bit, I’ll give them another try. Otherwise, I think I’ll pass.