British power metal sixpiece Control the Storm recently released their sophomore full length Forevermore to little, if any, fanfare. Their debut Beast Within (2015) might have been a blander effort, but on their second the brits mightily show off some great power metal linings that fully deserve some spotlight, because it is a hoot - plain and simple. A few new members have been picked up since the debut as well, where only founding members Raedon Mac and Rich Shillitoe remain from earlier. Perhaps most notably is the recruitment of hitherto mostly unknown Firouzeh Razavi who brings vocal chords like nobody’s business. Opening up with album highlight Darkest Fantasy, the first half of the album is home to the shorter, quick fire power metal rapids while the second half houses some lengthier tracks that delve deeper into the sound and mythos presented. Culminating in the thirteen minute title track, the album goes through the motions as it were, while still feeling suprisingly fresh and inspired.
Interestingly, said title track - while still being a meaty show of prowess mainly from front woman Razavi - is one of the least interesting tracks on the album. The songwriting is just much tighter during the shorter tracks and every minute feels justified and leading to a climax of the greater whole, whereas the title track brings the padding and filler; it would need a few miutes cut to give it a better flow. There’s plenty of variation throughout the album, with every power metal fan being likely to find something to their liking; be it the bombastic opening number, the short, flashy tracks of the first half or the more musically driving tracks like Chaotic Mind where the fast paced rhythm sections mingle with the driving guitar melodies and never overbearing keyboards.Inspirations are taken from the european school of melodic power metal, not far flung from the sound on Power Quest’s latest offering. Control the Storm crank the flow of epic keyboards up while blasting a heavy rhythm section to boot, and flashy guitar work soaring alongside Razavi’s vocals. The sound is clean and polished, befitting the style; you have the Maiden inspired rhyhtms and twin guitar approach Matt Smith and Rich Shillitoe.
The guitars, rather simply, are phenomenal throughout, with several magnificent solos and fully fleshed out lead parts and flashy hooks. They could do with some more crunch in the mix but they clearly deliver the goods in heaps as Control the Storm deal out fast paced stompers like Strike to Defend or the glorious Follow Me which will hook you in with their flashy choruses sprinkled with Razavi’s great vocal approach, to the deeper cuts like Curse of the Voiceless and Chaotic Mind that give more depth and tangible emotion to the guitar parts.Really, as already stated, the only real complaint with this album is the title track, and even then we’re nitpicking at some of the padding moments; the intro and buildup is great, incorporating some folk elements and atmospheric levels that would have done well spread throughout the album entire. All throughout you can just hear how much fun is being had and it’s coming through in the efforts and the songwriting, and that’s just how this album comes across; a fun love affair made for and by genuine fans of the sound and the style; a genuine surprise of a joyride.
Standout tracks: Darkest Fantasy, Follow Me, Chaotic Mind