Released: 2005, Metal Blade Records
Reviewer: Gabriel C. Zolman
There is a philosophical paradox within the halls of academia (certainly not something most Heavy Metal reviews begin with, for sure…), which concerns the concept of Omniscience. It is frequently—in hipster circles—referred to as Led Zeppelin’s Paradox.
You see, if God is “omniscient,” this means that “He” would have infinite foreknowledge, by default. This means, once again by default, that God would have known that in the early 1970’s, there would be a band called Led Zeppelin, composed of people such as Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, who would compose a song called “Stairway to Heaven.” God would also know, in advance and from the beginning, that this race “He” planned to create would hold this song in high esteem, and that great debate would rage over its lyrics. “He” also, of course, would have to have known that the poppy fields that would grow on this yet-created planet would yield a substance these humans would call “opium,” and that the human that would one day be called “Jimmy Page” would be sitting before a nice warm fire in Scotland’s Boleskine House, smoking the stuff…which would lead to the creation of the aforementioned song and set of lyrics.
Now—again—if God is “omniscient,” it stands to reason that “He” would be able to reproduce the song with ease, given “His” infinite foresight. Stay with me, folks. So, in a sense—given the presumable existence of God, and the previously agreed-upon concept of “omniscience,” the song “Stairway To Heaven” existed before the heavens and the earth. This creates the paradox: where does the music, then, originate? Certainly not with Jimmy Page, as he himself was preexistent on a conceptual level, as well. Do we thank God or Page and Plant for “Stairway…”? What does this imply about “free will”? What about the nature of evil, and of bad music? Who is to blame for Seether or Vanilla Ice? Why would God allow for Fred Durst’s birth?
In the existential sense, therefore, I don’t know who to thank for LIQUID MONSTER. I’ll start with Lemmy and/or God. I’ll follow it with an ice-cold Amber Bock extended unto Brainstorm, who conceived this brilliant mess—regardless of whether they were preconceived or not. And then, just to be safe, I’ll conclude with a round of Jager Bombs to Metal Blade A&R. I really can’t do much better than that.
Brainstorm, you see, have gone and ruined Power Metal for everyone. (Maybe I shouldn’t celebrate afterall?). Seriously—I could not bring myself to review another Power Metal “epic” after I heard this band’s new disc. It would have sounded weak and fragile when compared.
Brainstorm play Heavy Fucking Metal, and they do it with a multi-textured crunch not seen since Angel Dust went AWOL. Angel Dust is the closest comparison I can make. This is heavier than Mystic Prophecy, more progressive than Hammerfall, and more direct than Frantic Bleep (who also come to mind, at times). Fans of JUGULATOR-era Judas Priest will sell their old Attacker discs for this. It really doesn’t get much better, Falconer and Dream Evil be damned. It might not be “perfect,” per se—but really, nothing is. It’s still a decent way to blow a ten-spot.
If the Metallica-like crunch of opener “Worlds Are Coming Through” fails to bang thy head or snap thine neck, thou art most dead. First-option single “Inside The Monster” slithers like the beast that it describes, crawling across the dust of Eden to nip at Adam’s heels and screw his wife. The vocals are—and I mean this agreeably—“eighties-tastic.” Symphorce vocalist Andy B. Franke is never too high, and rarely too low. While he never quite reaches the operatic heights of, say, Ripper Owens, his perpetual midrange is really for the best, when all notes are considered. A crotch-hugging squeal would ruin this.
Part of the appeal, you see, is that it is a Power Metal record that actually sounds MODERN. There is nothing “modern” about the sans-testes whines of leather-studded eunichs wailing into the distance the details of their character sheets. This is another feather in the Viking cap: the lyrics veer closer into “prog” territory, which keeps the cheese levels from being set on stun.
The whole thing sounds grossly mechanized, and like Earache Records’ recent triumph, Biomechanical, it works on every level that it shouldn’t. The opening keyboard doodling might cause a sigh or rolled eye…but the riffs shall pummel doubters to the ground. This is almost Thrash, but rarely faster than the average Maiden tune. At times, this steady and incessant pace threatens to undo them—variety is not their middle name. But that’s not why you’d buy this, anyway.
A perfect example of what this band represents is found in “Lifeline,” the album’s catchiest, most accessible moment, wherein the heaviness of the rhythm section gels with the heavy-hitting plod of drummer Dieter Bernert, and a chorus catchy as the clap and common cold.
If there be an Achilles Heel, it is the mixed blessing of the album mix. There is a KISS-like “wall of sound” achieved, that makes the music roll by like a tank. Unfortunately, it makes individual instruments dissolve into the bludgeoning aether of "overall menace". This is not a guitar or bass guitar “hero” disc. It also tends neuter any slower moments—any and all attempts at the “power ballad” fall flat as roadkill, sterile as a Chernobyl nuke-plant janitor.
There is no questioning the power of these songs, or the thunder of the beat behind them. All that remains is this: Why isn’t this band more popular? Where will they go next? When will Angel Dust return to up the ante? And, is it already predestined that the good bands are ignored?