Sound — 9
This was the album that separated Brainstorm from the stereotypical power metal bands they used to be associated with, and to this day they haven't released an album that sounded the same as the previous one. "Ambiguity" was also the first album to feature vocalist Andy B. Franck, one of my favorite vocalists of all time. He really helped the band to find their sound, and writes almost all of the lyrics.
Brainstorm's particular brand of power metal adopts a heavier, darker sound than all other power metal bands. At moments they sound more like a thrash band with power metal influences rather than an outright power metal band, most of the lyricwork also sheds the stereotypical ones often associated with power metal. Everyone in the band seems to have the drive to make every song as powerful and heavy as possible, and if it weren't for the two ballads this would actually be one of the heaviest albums of all time. Torsten Ilenfeldt and Milan Loncaric's thrashy guitar work and heavy riffs are (along with Andy's fantastic vocals) Brainstorm's strongest side. Dieter Bernert's drumming never gets repetitive and predictable, and he plays more thrash oriented double-bass than most other power metal drummers.
The opening song "Crush Depth" starts with a dark melody intro that sounds like it could've come from a sci-fi movie like "Aliens," the song then hit into the first riff which is backed up by the second guitar playing a heavier open note riff. The drums don't fully hit you until the main riff kicks in, and this a thrash riff with several harmonics on top. When the verse starts, you can quickly tell that Andy is a far better singer than Marcus Jürgens, and has a much a better tone in his voice. The guitar solo, like most solos on this album, is more thrash sounding than power metal sounding. "Tear Down the Walls" and "Perception of Life" are the fastest songs on the record, the first one having one of the best riffs the album, that utilizes 3 different types harmonics. Both songs have a great power metal chorus. "Beyond My Destiny" is a semi-ballad that's quite reminiscent of a Kamelot song, especially with the orchestrations during the second half. "Arena" is a very thrash oriented song, that also has the catchiest refrain on the album. The heaviest song "Coming Closer" has several clever tempo changes and an incredibly heavy riff in middle of the song. Just when you think that it cant get any heavier, an even heavier version of same riff hit you right in the face. That, combined with 2 minutes of intence shredding during the bride, makes this one of best songs on the album. "Maharaja Palace" is a dark oriental sounding track with lots of additional instruments giving the song an even more Egyptic feel. The fantastic "Lost Unseen" is a 6 minute discharge of thrash riffs and amazing drumming. An insane guitar solo/shred section tops it off, best song on the album.
Lyrics — 9
Andy B. Franck sings in a thrashy style, but still hits all those high notes like most power metal singers. He is a bit reminiscent of Bruce Dickinson at times, but with a much wider vocal range. He's also a brilliant front-man with his charismatic Halford-styled vocal approach and awesome stage presence. The piano ballad "Far Away" is the weakest song on the album, but proves what a complete singer Andy really is. He even does some growling in the verses on the bonus track "Revenant." A good thing about Andy is that he never uses those super high notes more than like 3 or 4 times per song, there is also a really awesome tone in his voice that few others can match.
The lyrics, while not being as good as on "Soul Temptation" and "Downburst," are really great and makes me sing along several times whenever I listen to this album. I still think that Andy's lyrics in his other band "Symphorce" are the best he's ever written, but the Brainstorm stuff is very good to. The lyrical highlights are the songs "Lost Unseen" and "Crush Depth."
Overall Impression — 8
Brainstorm's first release with Metal Blade Records and Andy B. Franck is a truly remarkable album, that stands the test of time. It isn't the best produced album in their catalogue, but most certainly the heaviest. A problem with the third track "Beyond My Destiny," is that it comes to early on the album and also is way too long with it's 8:30 minutes. It would have been better if the song had appeared somewhere in the middle, and had been at least 1 minute shorter. Out of the 11 songs on the album, five are 6 minutes or longer. The other ballad "Far Away," is not a terrible song but just doesn't fit in on this album, Brainstorm is way to thrash oriented to have a song without guitars on it.
This album is a must hear for any power metal fan, and I strongly recommend it to any fan of heavier metal. The best part of the album is the riffs and the vocals, and the best songs are "Crush Depth," "Coming Closer," "Lost Unseen" and "Maharaja Palace." Out of all their albums, I would say this one ranks somewhere in the middle. I would also like to call it the birth of power thrash metal.