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Purple Turtle, Camden, London
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.
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.
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
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.
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).
Warriors', 'Far Away' and 'Mr Evil' saw as much volume from the crowd as
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.
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.
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?
Chris: 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?
Chris: 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?
Chris: (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?
Chris: 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?
Chris: 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
Chris: Yes. Yes.
Joe: If you weren't a musician, what would you be?
Chris: 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?
Chris: It was Deep Purple - Machine Head.
Joe: If you could have one favourite album of all time, what
would it be?
Chris: 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?
Chris: 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?
Chris: Yes hopefully we will come back to play some
festivals next year.
Joe: There is High Voltage?
Chris: 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
interview by Joe Geesin
Photos by Noel Buckley
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