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Purple Turtle, Camden, London
5 November 2010

Photos by Noel Buckley

Photo by Noel Buckley

A fantastic, if hot and sweaty night of European power metal. No noise here, this was the clean, melodic kind and it attracted a crowd just as enthusiastic.

Photo by Noel Buckley

Opener Neon Fly take the sped-up trad metal approach, with some good lines and fast guitar. Showcasing a new singer, the band are working on a new album that should be worth checking out.

I had been waiting 9 years to see Freedom Call, ever since being turned on by their Crystal Empire album. Their current Shadow King opus is without doubt the best album since then, and their most operatic to date. To call this band power metal does not do them justice, partly because it puts them on par with a plethora of acts pedestrian in comparison. Operatic melodic speed metal is as close as you'll get and fantastic it is too.

Photo by Noel Buckley

The current album, largely based on a concept centred on King Ludwig II Of Bavaria, features more melody, solos, hooks and huge (and I mean HUGE) vocal and guitar harmonies than most power metal bands can dream of and this showed tonight.

From the opening track of 'We Are One' (from the band's debut) the fast guitars, the harmonies, the neo-classical style, the heads were banging, the arms were raised.

Photo by Noel Buckley

Photo by Noel Buckley

Photo by Noel Buckley

'Thunder God' and 'Tears Of Babylon' (both from Shadow King) stood out, the former adding an anthemic edge to the sound, the latter saw the melody, band and crowd bouncing in unison.

Several tracks from the previous outing Dimensions went down a storm, including 'Blackened Sun', having a slightly thrashier edge. 'Out Of The Ruins' was classic too, and by now swords were being waved in the air as well as hands. This was like the Norse Gods' call to arms, everyone responding in harmony.

A drum solo followed, and then a slow intro built into a solid heavy track.  'Merlin - The Legend Of The Past' (Shadow King) and the epic 'The Quest' (Crystal Empire), and everyone in the house was smiling broadly (even the band's PR was surprised at how good it all was).

'We Are Warriors', 'Far Away' and 'Mr Evil' saw as much volume from the crowd as the band.

The final track, a fine intro with horns, finished off a 14 track set, before the encore track of 'Freedom Call'. The bass and two guitars all played (and sung) their hearts out in harmony.

Quite why Classic Rock or Metal Hammer haven't latched on to Freedom Call is a travesty; it's as mysterious, eccentric and just plain mad as King Ludwig II himself.

A power metal gig where melody, harmony and passion built a huge crescendo. Freedom Call outperformed almost every band I saw at High Voltage. No mean feat.

Photo by Noel Buckley

Before hitting the stage at Camden's Purple Turtle, founder member Chris Bray (guitar, vocals, songwriting) gave us his time (and a beer) for a very warm chat.

Joe: Who are your influences?

All music (laughs). I never grew up just listening only to metal music. I was open minded, because my parents are professional musicians, they are very into music. I was listening to classical music because of my parents and I got some lessons in piano and guitar, the lessons were classical music, then I started with bands like Saga, and Supertramp, and I was listening to bands like Deep Purple and Rainbow, this stuff, and Kiss.

And then I came back to other bands who were more groovy, INXS, I love their music very much. I am very happy that I can write songs without trying to copy other metal bands. So I am open minded to music, from poppy to jazzy or whatever styles, I try to bring it into my music.

Joe: Is there much unreleased music by Freedom Call?

Yeah, a lot of stuff, a lot of ideas. I am at the moment working on a solo album, and it will not be metal music. It will be rock music, in the 80s style.

Joe: Who would you most like to play with?

(laughs). A good question. Hard to tell. I think Ritchie Blackmore has a brilliant talent. I like that very very much. Yes, Ritchie Blackmore as a guitar player, but generally I am very happy, I have gotten to play with a lot of people I enjoy playing with in Freedom Call. I don't miss anything, I am very happy with the band I have now. So maybe we will find some funny combinations on stage, some sessions, but I don't have a longing to play with special musicians.

Joe: What's been the highlight of your career so far?

Definitely the show in 2003 in Wacken. But I prefer these clubs. It's a great experience to play these big big festivals, but I notice that the crowd are one person, you can't look in the eyes of the fans, see the enthusiasm, it's just one crowd, one person, when you are playing to 40,000 people, it's one person, big crowd.

And I think it's ok to do that sometimes, but in clubs I can take a look in the eyes of the fans, see how they are reacting, talk to them. I think I like it more.

Joe: What do you like to do outside of Freedom Call?

I'm in a situation where I can't live on the money of Freedom Call, but I only want to do music as a job. So I have another cover band, we play in a year 60 times, and I have my own recording studio where we are also producing the Freedom Call albums, and other bands, just recording, supporting other bands, and this makes it possible, so that we can survive.

Joe: So music and playing in bands is pretty much everything for you?

Yes. Yes.

Joe: If you weren't a musician, what would you be?

I think, I don't care what detailed job it would be, but I never would like to be sad or disappointed with my life. I don't care how much money I'm earning with my job, as long as I'm taken care of, I'm waking up in the morning and I'm not depressed, I'm not tired to work. It has to be creative, innovative, and if it makes me happy.

Joe: What was the first record you ever bought?

It was Deep Purple - Machine Head.

Joe: If you could have one favourite album of all time, what would it be?

I love Deep Purple, and the Perfect Strangers album, really, I fell in love with this album. Brilliant. Do you know Arjen Lucassen? The Space Opera? Arjen Lucassen the ex guitar player of Vengeance and he started this solo project and it has lots of singers. I think this project was born years ago and that sounds brilliant, there is a lot of love and a lot of passion, sounds great.

Joe: Any message to your fans?

Yes, of course. Especially, yesterday we played in Bournemouth, that was cool, it was a small club, but I didn't expect that so many people were into the music of Freedom Call so we are really happy to play this tour in the UK.

Also the first time in Scotland and we are very proud of that because for German metal bands it is not so normal to be coming over to England to tour. And that makes me proud, we will give our best, all our energy, and you will see that tonight.

Joe: Will you come back to the UK more often?

Yes hopefully we will come back to play some festivals next year.

Joe: There is High Voltage?

Good idea. So maybe we come back. And at the end of the year we will be recording a live DVD, and that will be released in April. Maybe then, with this DVD, we will tour around.

Review and interview by Joe Geesin

Photos by Noel Buckley

Album Review (and interview)


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