I don’t think, by and large, that German power metal institution Freedom Call has ever got the credit it’s deserved, especially in the Anglosphere. Their mix of happy happy Helloween melody, gonzo Manowarish posturing and the grim faced determination to give us a good time, all the time goes over the heads of many people I consider to be friends, but seriously, as band leader Chris Bay leads the audience here in a convivial chant of ‘Metal is for everyone, the sound is made from steel’ how could anyone with two ears and a heart seriously not be convinced?

This extensive live album, recorded at shows last year in Plzen in the Czech Republic and Regensburg in the band’s native homeland underlines all at once the pros and cons of the band. Opening with the semi-nonsensical Union of The Strong, a rabblerousing mix of The Wiggles and Manowar that urges the audience to ‘jump and carry on’ is sure to give naysayers fuel for their fire but, after that, well… If you aren’t fully converted by the final, triumphant triumvirate that closes the set out – Warriors, Far Away and an earth-shattering take on the band’s best track, Land Of Light, well – there may not be any hope for you, I’m afraid…

Bay is in great voice throughout, backed by faithful retainers Lars Rettkowicz (guitars) and bassist Francesco Ferraro as the band rip. wild eyed and doubtless grinning from ear to ear,  through energised cuts from the band’s last album M.E.T.A.L. and a faultlessly-constructed set of old faves which just go to show how much quality there is in the FC canon. All fourteen songs in the live portion of the album (which is rounded out by new studio cut The M.E.T.A.L. Fest), fire on all cylinders, with material old and new slotting in seamlessly to give you as a listener the perfect summation of just what Freedom Call is all about – slashing axes, parping keys, bagpipes… it’s all here for your delectation!

But seriously – if you’re a long term fan this is a great package, and if you’re new to the band then I can’t really think of a better introduction to the joyous noise that is Freedom Call. So dig in, one and all!

The M.E.T.A.L. Fest releases on July 14th.