What takes the place of formulaic power metal, while competent, is not particularly memorable
Damn...another tough call after my review of the latest Kamelot opus. I'm not particularly moved by this one, but at the same time I feel bad about it somehow. While Freedom Call are not one of my favorite bands, I have found their music to be a guilty pleasure that I welcome from time to time, having particularly enjoyed the lovably preposterous Crystal Empire album (sorry guys, I couldn't buy an album called Stairway to Fairyland with a straight face!).
Furthermore, these guys have gotten so much flack for such "cheesy," "gay," or generally "lame" fantasy-based fare. And while I have admittedly not been following the band's activities very closely of late, it seems Dimensions is an attempt to reconcile their trademark fairytale machinations with the more "mature" and "modern" direction explored on their last couple of albums. And while I appreciate the effort, it also raises a bit of a red flag in my book, giving nagging feeling that the band are beginning to second-guess themselves.
Musically, Dimensions doesn't strike me as particularly modern, which is fine with me, as I have not been impressed with much of what passes for "modern rock," at least as it is defined in the States. However, it is hard to detect anything particularly mature about the album either, at least on a musical level. Sure, it avoids some of the overt clichés of formulaic power metal (which the band have been accused of relying upon in the past), but what takes their place, while competent, is not particularly memorable, lacking any real flare. Sure, there are moments of inspiration ("Light Up the Sky"), and some of the lyrics apparently address climate change-timely stuff, I must admit. But "Mr. Evil"? What were they thinking here?
Maybe it was the loss of guitarist Sascha Gerstner to Helloween, but as ridiculous as some of the band's previous material may have been, it always had a certain spark to it that this album, frankly, does not. And with bands like Helloween and Gamma Ray (Freedom Call drummer Dan Zimmerman's other big gig) bouncing back big time creatively in the past year, Dimensions looks pretty blah in the face of its power metal competition. I can't quite say what the problem is here, but (belated) self-consciousness may be a part of it. Maybe bands like this just aren't meant to grow up, ala Peter Pan. Oh well, people said the band should grow up and drop the fairy crap. Guess we fans should be careful what we wish for, eh?