Freedom Call has a strange history. The power metal band seems almost overshadowed by their involvement with Dan Zimmermen, drummer for Gamma Ray. Though 2010 was the last time the band played with Zimmerman, Freedom Call seems haunted by the memory of a member from a well known group. This is sad as the band’s 8th album is just as crisp, clear, and competent as their material with Zimmerman. Does Beyond have a goofy yet charming album cover? Yes. Alright, then all is normal.

For anyone familiar with the work of Freedom Call, the sound of slickly crafted power metal dealing with general themes of fantasy has not changed much since the late 90’s. In fact, since Stairway to Fairyland the band’s albums have acted much like cheap paperback fantasy novels that trade experimentation for precision. Whether or not it is the strictly story based tracks like “Knights of Taragon” or general rabble rousing anthems like “Come on Home,” Freedom Call exists to make its listeners smile. Beyond is near flawless in vocals, instrumentation, and lyrics and the band has found a formula and decided to get a PhD in fantasy power metal.

It goes without saying that Beyond has not broken any new horizons or changed the internal workings of the genre. The songs follow a straightforward path, which rarely changes or even surprises. While this sounds like a criticism, there are bands today that are trying to create the stability that Freedom Call has achieved years ago. There is nothing wrong with thick paperbacks that have dragons and warriors on the front. I am fine with taking this into a quiet corner for the next few hours.

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