Chris Bay is best known as the prime mover behind German power metallers Freedom Call; Indeed I only received this album to review after Sentinel Daily’s resident power metal guru, Ferry Templeton, turned it down on the rather obvious grounds that it sounds nothing like Herr Bay’s dayjob. So what does it sound like?
A variety of things, really. For one thing the album is almost relentlessly upbeat and, dare I say it, sugary. So sugary you might be able to digest it only in small doses lest you fall into a coma.
Opening track Flying Hearts sees Bay at his most rocking, but that’s a very relative term, especially if you are indeed looking for some sort of Freedom Call replication. Rather it has a jaunty, eighties flavour that remembers the likes of A-Ha, the whole song being shot through with a classy sheen that only true artisans like Bay can manage.
Light My Fire is a summery pop number, a bit throwaway if we’re being honest, but Move On has a lot more substance to it. The keyboard refrain that features throughout is probably the most Freedom Call-y thing you’ll hear on the album, but the big guitars have been toned right down, the result being the sort of thing you might encounter if you watch the Eurovision Song Contest with any degree of regularity. It’s catchy, and Bay delivers one of his best vocals of the album on this track.
The chiming Radio Starlight, which I believe has been released as a single, starts off sounding like it wants to be Blink 182 but turns into a chirpy piece of pop rock, with a vocal line that sounds like it was written to advertise ladies sanitary products (it’s my day, my time, my way of life)… It’s a bit too poppy for this writer’s taste, especially the uplifting key change towards the end, but what do I know? It’s probably all over German radio even as we speak.
Much more appealing is Silent Cry, which fuses The Hollies’ Air That I Breathe to a pleasant, almost Britpoppy chorus, whilst the retro-drenched Hollywood Dancer – which wouldn’t be out of place on an album by UK pomp Godz Cats in Space – is absolutely excellent; a bass-driven, propulsive bouncer, it’s the best song on the album by some way and worth three minutes and twenty seconds of your time – you can thank me later.
Keep Waiting features some nice drumming from Freedom Call’s Ramy Ali but too obviously hankers after a slice of Keith Urban’s action for my liking, but Misty Rain is really rather good, mashing up a real early eighties, Simple Minds feel in the verses with a great chorus. This is really high class stuff, and it’s a direction I’d be really interested in seeing Bay pursue in the future.
Where Waters Flow in Heaven returns to the Britpop feel with it’s baroque pop strings and yearning chorus, and shows real ambition on the part of the songwriter, but penultimate track Bad Boyz should probably have remained locked in Bay’s private song archive. It’s the only real stinker on the album, but it does let things down badly.
Last track Love Will Never Die sounds like it was written in honour of Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance, with it’s lip-trembling mix of guitar and piano, but it sadly doesn’t live up to it’s early promise, leaving the album to end on a slight downer, which is a shame.
Still, as this is clearly a deck-clearing exercise on the part of Bay I guess we should expect a little bit of unevenness in the quality department. Freedom Call completists will obviously need this in their collections, but if you enjoy a bit of obscure mid-eighties AOR every now and then you might find enough of interest here to warrant a purchase too.
Steamhammer/SPV will release Chasing the Sun on February 23rd.