1. Mother Earth 2. Carry On 3. Rhythm Of Life 4. Hunting High And Low 5. Starlight 6. The Gathering 7. Kings And Queens 8. Hero Nation 9. High Enough 10. Starchild 11. The Eternal Flame 12. Circle Of Life
It is really strange how a band just clicks for you. How everything just finally comes together after years of confusion and dismay. I've hated this band's existence since day one. Yes, since the very beginning of the band's career I have had monumental problems with their version of Fairy Metal 101. Anyone who knows me will understand that it isn't a beef with the writing or style, it is just the extreme fluff that the band throws around from album to album. NOW, that has all changed somehow. NOW, Freedom Call have finally reached that all important moment when things change, when the band finally achieves the goals orginally set forth with the first jam. This is the Freedom Call I have been wanting for six years. Finally it has all come together, and boys and little girls, count me in for the long ride.
"Circle Of Life" is just epic, the magnitude of this power metal behemoth just simply breathtaking. This is a wonderous achievment in strength and might, a dynamic world filled with passion and determination, breaking the restraints put upon themselves and seeing the sun for the very first time. With the band's prior albums, the generic "Stairway To Fairyland", the lifeless "Crystal Empire", and the rather lackluster "Eternity", Freedom Call has just ran through the motions, never quite sounding up to par with bands like Edguy, Helloween, and Blind Guardian. The band really struck me as odd, with so much talent and metal devotion simply thrown to the wastebasket. With this new endeavor it is a brand new set of plans, a new path to the same crown. This time the path is clearly set, with no obstacles and no challenges.
I'm a huge fan of Chris Bay, but not while he has been with Freedom Call. No, my admiration goes back to the 90s with Moon Doc, a great tag team of Bay and Herman Frank. The two led a hard rock revolution with the self-titled debut and the fabulous "Get Moon'd". Since Bay left the group he has sort of thrown away his hard rock get-up. Bay is spandex and hairspray, with a voice that runs rampant over the Sunset Strip, almost recalling the finer moments of the 'Row's Mr. Bach. From his first note on Freedom Call's debut, I knew that the fantasy had changed his whole outlook. Bay tried to be Michael Kiske and it just didn't work for me. Now he has seemingly followed in the footsteps of Andi Deris, who much like Bay cut his teeth in hard rock (Pink Cream 69) before joining ranks with the power metal elite (Helloween). Deris switched gears on Helloween's "Better Than Raw" record, and now Bay has performed the same trick with this new effort. His vocals are a smooth hard rock opera, changing into a power metal mode in some tracks, but for the most part allowing the dramatics of his register to carry him through the "highs and lows" of each cut. His performance on this record is just awe inspiring and has finally put him on my new chart of vocal kings.
Moving past the history and the voice, let's look at "Circle Of Life" a bit more. From top to bottom this is a power metal ride. At times the band seems to pull the same stunt perfected by the likes of Pink Cream 69, Masterplan, and lately Edguy, that being the ability to inject a good dose of hard rock into the power metal vehicle. It works well with others and this time it is the perfect recipe for this group. It is exactly the type of material I would expect from this much talent. The songs themselves are just fantastic, with a tremendous dose of atmosphere and mood, two key ingredients for today's power genre.
I think the songs that work the absolute best here are "Hunting High And Low", "High Enough", "Hero Nation", and "Kings And Queens". With this material the band follows in much the same way as Helloween on "Better Than Raw". That isn't the comparison between Deris and Bay, just simply the songs at work on a much better scale and formula. These are fine staples of the hard rock blending into power metal. With "Kings And Queens" the band jolly through the traditional power fare, combining Gamma Ray and Rhapsody at times but with much more strength and fortitude. "High Enough" and "Hero Nation" are slow movers that build to a giant crescendo. Bay really leads his troops here, playing the perfect commander on this metal mine field, using the rock throat as a call to arms.
The band gets fantasy based as well, going through the motions a bit more heavy handed on strong slabs like "Carry On" and "Starchild". The 70s hard rock flavor creeps in on the happy-go-lucky "Starlight". The closing portion of the record is a bit more dramatic, pacing along rather slowly through the songs "The Eternal Flame" and "Circle Of Life", a rather epic title track. Overall the album is solid through and through and will really light a fire for the fantasy, power, and rock fans out on the streets.
About this Writer: Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has served as senior editor for MaximumMetal.com for nearly 10 years and is the author of the heavy metal book series--Denim & Letters. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia.
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