Reviewed: November 2018
Released: 2018, AFM Records
Reviewer: Kieron Hayes
I’ve only listened to one album by Brainstorm previously, that being 2003’s Soul Temptation. I liked that one a lot, and so I’m excited to see where the band have gone since then.
Several spins of the album reveals something that doesn’t sound too fundamentally different, but something -does- sound different, and it takes a revisit of that 15 year old album to really determine what’s changed about their approach. While both fit fairly readily under the power metal umbrella, Midnight Ghost leans more towards the classic heavy metal side of the genre, the ilk some might refer to loosely as “melodic metal”. “Four Blessings” gives immediate UDO/Accept flashbacks, bearing that very familiar hard rocking swagger. Both “Ravenous Minds” and “Divine Inner Ghost” highlight an increased reliance on catchy choruses repeated over and over, perhaps even a tad too much, risking the rest of the music sounding like an afterthought.
These particular tracks best illustrate this shift, but it’s present throughout the whole thing. While I can’t say if the change in style happened gradually over time or this is a sudden gear shift, Midnight Ghost has less of the bombast and grandeur the band had before, instead bringing in more of a grounding in traditional metal and straightforward, catchy melodies. Less Angra or Dark Moor, more Firewind or modern Dream Evil, also somewhat mirroring Edguy’s evolution.
However, none of this is to say it’s a bad album by any stretch, and it certainly still has some great tracks on it. “Jeanne Boulet (1764)”, “Devil’s Eye” and “Haunting Voices” are firm favourites here, each successful in different ways that add a good deal of flavour. “Devil’s Eye” is the classic opening track, packing a wallop to grab your attention right away, and benefits well from the speed and power behind it. “Haunting Voices” has a deliciously distinct character to it, bringing in a bit of a darker tone fitting for the subject, and even has a nice Nevermore feel to it at times. “Jeanne Boulet (1764)” is a longer track that makes excellent use of the additional room to breathe and build up. It sings loosely about the first recorded victim of the Beast of Gevaudan in 18th Century France (I do love a metal song that gets me to learn), and does well with the more ambitious approach.
Despite the shift in style, Midnight Ghost is still a decent power metal/traditional metal album. They have definitely turned down the rhapsodic approach of earlier works, and for me, this does lack some of the punch and exuberance I so enjoyed before. Ultimately, Midnight Ghost is enjoyable enough, but risks being lost amid the crowds as “just another melodic power metal band”.