Soul Temptation

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Power metal doesn't get much heavier or more aggressive than Germany's Brainstorm. Melding traditional metal songwriting aesthetics with new millenium production values to pummeling effect, the group steadily built its reputation over the course of four increasingly accomplished albums, blazing a path to 2003's arguable career-best Soul Temptation. On standout tracks like "Highs Without Lows," "The Leading," and "To the Head," Torsten Ihlenfeld and Milan Loncaric's muscular riffing handily offsets the ample keyboards provided by guest player Michael Rodenberger, assuring interesting nuances and diverse textures without watering anything down. They come close to losing the thread on the strangely Spanish speaking "Nunca nos Rendimos" and the unusually synth-heavy "Fading," but the ensuing three-song "Trinity of Lust" suite recovers the original momentum with anthemic sonic-scapes, near-progressive rock fervor, and -- most important of all -- a slew of memorable power chords. Through to the final harmony guitars of "Rising," Brainstorm establishes and maintains a strenuous pace, giving listeners a hearty and consistent pounding for their buck.

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