I have always had somewhat mixed feelings with power metal. Largely a European thing, it always seemed a little too hard to give in to it completely. It just has an air of being a little too self-serious, even if I otherwise love the thundering beats and fiery riffage that tell my brain "cool, it's metal!" At least with melodic metal - admittedly similar in a lot of ways - you get sweet solos instead of the rote, neo-classical sorta stuff we've been hearing for nearly 30 years.
Still, for every band that does it right, there are hundreds of them that sound plain bad. Luckily, this isn't the case with Freedom Call, founded by buddies Chris Bay and Dan Zimmerman (Gamma Ray) over 15 years ago. Even those unfamiliar with the band may appreciate their excellent representation of the genre over the course of their career so far as heard on their new best of compilation, Ages of Light.
Possibly the best part of this 24-track 2 CD compilation are the extras included on the second disc that include unusual versions of their songs that show a lighter side of the band in a way that really gave me a new respect for them. I always appreciate people's willingness and ability to not take themselves too seriously. And hearing a "speed ska" version of Hero On Video or the "melodic reggae" version of Mr. Evil is much cooler than the usual acoustic versions usually offered as alternate offerings - though the "camp fire" version of Freedom Call is pretty good too.
The Bottom Line: If your'e a fan of the genre, Freedom Call delivers with all of their biggest hits along with some nice extras beyond the usual stuff you find on these sorts of compilations.
- Genghis really liked those alternate versions and thinks more bands should follow suit...