If you’ve recently had some dental work done, or you’re on a strict, calorie-controlled diet, my advice to you would be to stay away from Freedom Call’s new album for a little while. For, despite it’s rather obvious title pointing you in the right direction as far as genre is concerned, my contention is that they’d have been far better off calling the album either S.U.G.A.R. or, better still, C.H.E.E.S.E. Because the album is high in both, and your new implants/diet kick won’t thank you for overindulging in either…

But this is European power metal, and thus you can only describe the saccharine and dairy levels present here in terms of success or otherwise. And on that level of judgement, this is Freedom Call’s best work since their 2002 classic Eternity.

Opening track 111 is the sort of thing Stryper have been trying to pull off without much luck on their last couple of releases, melding all out speed to melody in a way that only a few can successfully manage, whilst the title track sanitises Manowar at their most gonzoid; that’s not as disappointing as it sounds, by the way – simply replace the uncomfortable posturing with blank faced joy and you’re on to a winner every time. And this is a strategy that Chris Bay and company employ time and again over the course of this riotously enjoyable record.

The Ace of The Unicorn might have a nonsensical title, but the track’s come to bang some heads and therefore is immune to criticism; likewise Spirit of Daedalus, a double-kick fuelled barnstormer that could have come off of any Deris-era Helloween album, frankly, is head and shoulders above any petty carping you might come up with about it’s originality or lack thereof.

In simple terms, Freedom Call stopped overthinking about stuff about ten years ago. They know what works for them and, by extension, their fans, so why tinker too much with a combo that pays dividends? The stroke of luck for all concerned here is that the band appears to be in something approaching career-best song writing form this time around, despite there being nothing here that quite hits the heights of their classic anthem Land of Light. They keep things tight, concise, and tuneful, and they seek only to uplift and bring enjoyment to those they come in to contact with. That’s not a bad raison d’etre to have – more power to the band!

M.E.T.A.L. is released on August 23rd.