Brainstorm occupies roughly the same arena as Queensrÿche and Helloween.
Beyond Pain is Ihlenfeld's solo project. The band has toured with Solitude Aeternus and Morgana LeFay. A tour to support Ambiguity was almost cancelled when then-new vocalist Franck injured his hand mountain bike riding just prior to the tour. Most dates were completed with Ihlenfeld singing. Metus Mortis is the band's second album with the Symphorce vocalist. Metus was supported by a tour with Grave Digger.
Soul Temptation was recorded at House of Music studios in Winterbach, Germany. It became the band's most successful album so far, entering the German charts at number 73. The band played an array of festivals in the summer of 2003. The band was less than impressed at the beginning of 2004 when the proposed supporting bill for Primal Fear fell through. The latter band had since opted to tour as support for Iced Earth instead. Brainstorm accused Primal Fear of dishonesty and announced a tour instead with Edguy. The band issued Liquid Monster in the winter of 2005 and soon hit the road in Europe with At Vance and Mercenary in tow. Metal Blade issued the Honey from the B's (Beasting Around The Bush) DVD in 2007. Bassist Andreas Mailänder left in the middle of 2007. Downburst featuring Ieva was out in December of 2007. The group announced a European tour with Pagan’s Mind in early 2008.
The band signed with AFM Records in the summer of 2009 after spending years with Metal Blade Records. Having its hand one more time in the cookie jar Metal Blade Records issue a sampler on November 9th of 2009 called Just Highs No Lows (12 Years Of Persistence). The album was a two-CD package. Brainstorm released a new album, On The Spur Of The Moment, on September 30th, 2011 through AFM Records. The album was recorded at Studio 22 in Ludwigsburg, Germany with Axel Heckert. It was announced that the group’s next studio album, Firesoul, was being recorded and due to be released in March of 2014.
BRAINSTORM - SOUL TEMPTATION - METAL BLADE
Brainstorm's label's power and timeliness have combined to make the Germans one of the more successful metal acts in Germany. Sadly, the band's merely adequate music does not justify the hype.
Brainstorm is akin to a crossing of Queensryche, Nevermore or perhaps a metallic Fates Warning on one side with Judas priest on the other. The riff quality, however, is average and the vocal phrasing below average. The songs are generally presented in a mid-pace with a whiff of background keyboards and the occasional backing vocals. The German accent comes through too.
There are some nice metallic melodies on Doorway To Survive (ahem), but the vocals and the monotonous and outright detached drumming ruins the effect. The Leading has moments akin to Fight and even comes complete with a Rob Halfordish scream to start. Dying Outside kills some pain with its Judas Priest-inspried acrobatic beginning, while To The Head's speedier disposition is generally welcome. Tracks six, seven and eight constitute a so-so trilogy.
During the course of fifty-seven minutes, Soul Temptation defies all reports and comes across as a little tired, a little mundane and all too obscenely melodic at points to be correctly termed heavy or metal or a combination thereof. This album is as disappointing to the discriminating listener as the last Symphorce CD. - Ali "The Metallian"
BRAINSTORM - LIQUID MONSTER - METAL BLADE
Liquid Monster is the heaviest Brainstorm album yet and compared to its predecessor, Soul Temptation, packs quite a wallop. The album begins with its most diverse and potentially deliberately commercial track, Worlds Are Coming Through. The songs is disappointing with its synthesizers and samples even if its is reminiscent of Halford in places, but from there on it is pure business. The opener, if nothing else, reveals how the band has put a lot of arrangement, production and engineering work into the album. Inside The Monster - a title track of sorts - packs a heavy punch and is probably the album's heaviest song. Lifeline and Despair To Drown are also very heavy. The latter song even comes packed with a couple of Slayer riffs. Painside is harmonic and catchy which is another trait of the album. The album's slow song is Heavenly, but even this goes heavy midway. Burns My Soul, which closes the album, is also quite melodic and easy to listen to. Nevertheless, Liquid Monster is a heavy metal album full of crushing riffs, bass drums and cool solos. - Ali "The Metallian"
BRAINSTORM - DOWNBURST - METAL BLADE
Why did Brainstorm use keyboards? It softens, mellows and cheapens the songs. Granted that Downburst is still a metal album. Granted that the album is far from a sold-out, lame or commercial chart album and granted that on this, and previous releases, the Germans have made no secret of their intention to deliver hooks and catchy poppy choruses, but is it really necessary to be so blatantly laid-back on half the included tracks?
End In Sorrow, to take the obvious instance, has a soft symphonic background track, while How Do You Feel churns out a fairly mainstream tune. These softer moments do sit amidst serious songs like Falling Spiral Down and Stained With Sin. Let’s be clear. Yet, for every acceptable song there is a Redemption In Your Eyes whose heavy riff is maligned, molested and misused by a washed-out synthesized background. Surrounding Walls is another deliberately commercial tune whose main rhythm was originally heard on Van Halen’s I’ll Wait. The keyboards trap the song in a haze of disappointment.
Amidst the melee, Andy Franck’s voice is a familiar and fairly original for Brainstorm, which is a consistent on Downburst. The band clearly benefits from his larynx; without it, much of the mush on Downburst would become interchangeable with the masses out there also employing softer chords and keyboards to deteriorating effect. - Ali “The Metallian”
Brainstorm has not exactly been one of Metallian Towers favourite bands or even particularly well-received in the past, but that has now changed with the release of the impressive new album Liquid Monster which storms the brain with top-notch heavy metal. It seems that many agree with this assessment for the band's star is on the rise in the popularity sweepstakes as well. Singer Andy B. Franck, guitarists Torsten "Todde" Ihlenfeld and Milan "Mille" Loncaric, bassist Andreas MailÃ¤nder and drummer Dieter Bernert are garnering positive reviews, selling more albums and playing more shows than ever before. It was ideal timing then for Ali "The Metallian" to get the band's singer Andy B. Franck on the telephone and subject him to forty minutes of cross-examination as to who this monster is, where it comes from and where it is going. - 14.04.2005
ANDY: I think our new album, Liquid Monster, combines a lot of power, energy and aggression, but also features melody and harmony. We wrote most of the tracks on the road, because we had no other choice, as we had to enter the studio right after we came back from our world tour. We were coming off the stage and were going straight into the tour bus to write songs. That lent a live atmosphere to the songs. That makes the album very special for us. It was the first time that we did not write songs in our rehearsal room. I also think that this is a 'boys-become-men' type of an album. This time we knew exactly what we wanted. We are very happy with the new album.
METALLIAN: Does Brainstorm's increasing popularity and increased touring potentially imply that future albums will be written more on the road?
ANDY: (Laughingly) no more practicing room! You know, it worked out really well this time so you never know. The most important thing is to write songs from the heart. This is something we always took care of. We always wrote the type of music that we like. That is a very very important thing. We have to stay true to ourselves.
METALLIAN: The first element one notices on the album is the intricate and involved production. It is apparent that the band invested a lot in this area.
ANDY: You are right because we spent a lot more time in production this time. We were satisfied with the last two albums, Soul Temptation and Metus Mortis, but we had to leave the studio thinking 'we could change something here' or 'we could do better there' as we had no time left. This time we decided from the first day that we are not leaving the studio until everybody is one-hundred percent satisfied. It took us a while, but it was worth it because of the songs we had, the atmosphere we had and so the production had to be very good for us. We had never been in the studio for two and a half months. We had a lot of fun and we worked really hard.
METALLIAN: Does the extra budget and time imply that Metal Blade believes more in the band or is it simply a function of your contract with them?
ANDY: Half and half actually. Metal Blade will support us whenever possible, especially here in Europe where they expect a lot of the album, but it was how we managed the whole thing. We spent the right money for the right production. You have to take care a lot and people are expecting a lot this time.
The last album charted and so is this one. We are one of the bigger metal bands here in Germany. We did well in progressing up the chart and we are now at position 72 which is amazing. Metal Blade and the distributor have freaked out. They never expected something like this, but we have completed many tours and even last year at Wacken Open Air we had the biggest crowd - bigger than Nevermore or Anthrax and others - of almost 30,000 people waiting for us with flags and banners. I have to take care of the fact that we are having fun and playing the kind of music that we like to play. I don't take care of trends and styles. The most important thing is that we have to be honest to ourselves.
We will see what will happen. For now, we have a headlining tour with At Vance and Mercenary kicking off next week and the pre-sales for the tickets are very good. We searched for really good support acts to make the line-up slightly different. At Vance is melodic and the openers Mercenary have a great new album. Mercenary is for the males and At Vance is something for the girls and together they can bang their heads for Brainstorm! It is an interesting package and we took care that the tickets are not too expensive. Our record company is talking to a promoter in America as well. The booking agent wants to bring us in for a five-band package and we will be in position three or four. It is good to see that there are metal fans out there, they are having fun and they like our album. It was not too long ago when everyone was saying heavy metal is dead. Real metal is never dead. Our kind of music is more than alive and fans are waiting for it.
METALLIAN: The closest thing the album has to a title track is the song Inside The Monster. What is a Liquid Monster to begin with?
ANDY: To tell you the truth there is no deep meaning. We searched for a suitable title for the album and we could not find one to be honest. One day at rehearsal Milan said a song sounds "very monstrous." The words stayed with us and one day Todde asked me what the cover will be about and when I explained it to him he asked whether we will have a liquid monster on it then! This was a joke at first, but when we needed to make a decision everyone thought 'Liquid Monster' is a cool, strong and heavy title. The song Inside The Monster is a track about having inner problems. It is about being true to yourselves. I wanted to have the word 'monster' in the title to have some kind of a title track. We now are kicking off the Inside The Monster world tour.
METALLIAN: The artwork is also similarly monstrous. There are the liquid monsters, the helicopters and even the band seemingly skiing on the monster.
ANDY: I woke up one morning and had the idea of the three faces coming out of the water. They are made out of metal and whenever they come out of the water they turn into liquid. I explained the concept to our new artist Tom Thiel. He really understood what I was talking about. It was his idea to put the other things into the drawings in order to show people the large scale of the monsters. You can see how huge the monsters are.
METALLIAN: On the song front, the album's opener, Worlds Are Comin' Through, seems deliberately commercial.
ANDY: (Hesitates) no, not really. We already used loops and effects on previous albums. This is a trademark of ours, since Metus Mortis, to be very modern at the beginning of every album. We used some keyboards and synthesizers. It has nothing to do with commercialism. If anything, All Those Words is more or less the commercial song on the album. It is also a single and a video clip here in Europe. It will be played on the radio. For that you have to use the most cheesy track. Did I say that? No, no I didn't (laughs)!
METALLIAN: Could the ballad Heavenly have been a single?
ANDY: No, I don't think so. Some people thought Heavenly was Brainstorm's first single, but we had some ballads before like on the ambiguity album. We did not have them on the last two albums, but this time Todde came up with it and I came up with a vocal line for it. It was the right decision. It makes the album a little more diverse. We are not afraid and will do whatever makes sense.
METALLIAN: Inside The Monster might be my favourite track on the album.
ANDY: To me Inside The Monster is the typical Brainstorm track. It has a pounding bass and drums and is up-tempo. We have never been a speed metal band or a doom metal band. The track features exactly what Brainstorm is all about. This time the song has combined all the elements of the band perfectly. It is not always easy to have a powerful beginning and keep up the level for the next three or four minutes. The song is also my personal favourite.
METALLIAN: Would you agree that Despair To Drown has moments closer to Slayer than traditional heavy metal fare?
ANDY: I am not really sure if it's Slayer or Megadeth, but it features some kind of a old school thrash element. We also grew up on this type of music. I would be a huge liar were I to say if we never listened to Slayer, Megadeth or Testament. I am a huge fan of those bands. We all are. It also has the typical Brainstorm trademarks. We combined them.
METALLIAN: We can't end the chat without my asking about the friction Brainstorm had with Primal Fear over touring after your last album Soul Temptation. How is the bands' relationship today?
ANDY: It is funny you ask because just a week ago Primal Fear's Mat Sinner and I went out. That says it all. That was a situation where we were supposed to tour together and they got an offer from Iced Earth and we were pissed off because we had planned for a common tour and cancelled our own headlining tour for it. They could have told us earlier. They did not tell us the entire truth. More or less, had we the chance to tour with Iced Earth we would have done it too. At the end, we toured with Edguy which turned out to be a triumph for us. There are no more bad feelings between us. We all live in the same area. We know each other well. At the end we are all metal heads. Mat Sinner and I had a funny time last week and we were cool. We respect each other. I am very honest. there are no bad feelings.
METALLIAN: As for the famous last words...
ANDY: Fans should check out Liquid Monster. Brainstorm can't be described in a word or two. Fans should enjoy the album as much and as long as possible. I hope people enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it. We would love to say 'thanks' to all the readers of Metallian for their support. It is amazing to see we have fans all over the world. It is more than we ever expected. I have tears in my eyes when we see people waiting for us at shows. Ali, thanks for your support. Come and join us and let's have a beer together.
Andy says goodbye and probably retires to bed as it is midnight in his native land. Brainstorm's album has now been released world-wide and the quintet is planning on being on the road for the foreseeable future. Look for them.