|Freedom Call - Crystal Empire
01. King Of The Crystal Empire (Intro)
02. Freedom Call
03. Rise up
06. Call Of Fame
07. Heart Of The Rainbow
08. The Quest
10. Palace Of Fantasy
11. The Wanderer
Helloween, Gamma Ray, Hammerfall... if you're into traditional Power Metal, you should pay attention to Freedom Call. This German band emerged from the unknown in 1999 with the album Stairway To Fairyland. But with 2001's Crystal Empire, they really reached another level. Around their leader Crhis Bay [vocals, guitar, keys], it's not surprising to find Daniel Zimmermann [drums], the rhythm master of Gamma Ray. The line-up was completed by Sacha Gerstner [guitar, who since leaved the band for Helloween...] and Ilker Erstin [bass guitar].
First of all, the lyrics and the cover [very nice cover by the way] demonstrate that Freedom Call plays Power metal: warriors, swords, landscape,... But I have to recognize that their lyrics are catchy and not totally meaningless. In fact, Crystal Empire has its own little legendary story.
Anyway, let's get into the tracklist. After a 30 seconds intro comes 'Freedom Call', in which you can appreciate the good voice of Chris Bay [in my opinion, the closest voice to early Andre Matos] and his nice work on keyboard as well. Epic background vocals on choruses, a successful attempt to reach the standards [e.g. Hammerfall's 'Heading The Call']. Now, the problem with Crystal Empire is that the songs are all worthy listening to, nevertheless they show a lack of creativity that lead you to perplexity ["same song again?"]. Oh well, let's say that apart from the previously named 'Freedom Call', the highlights of the album are 'Rise Up', 'Heart of the Rainbow' and overall 'Quest', which is probably the most original song on the album and closer to famous Gamma Ray's 'Rebellion in Dreamland' than any other song.
In a nutshell Crystal Empire is not very innovative but remains a high established standard for Power Metal fans. The good voice of Chris Bay and a couple of remarkable compositions give the album enough positive aspects to check it out.