This phone interview with the guitarist Torsten "Todde" Ihlenfeld of the German power metal band , was done by Sam Chronic in September 2003.

The German power metal band Brainstorm have been around since 1989 but it wasn't until 1997 that they released their debut album "Hungry". Now they have just released their fifth full-length album "Soul Temptation" which is their third for their current label Metal Blade Records. (Vincent Eldefors, editor)

I wanted to start off by talking about the recently released "Soul Temptation". Could you tell us a little bit more about the album and some of the meaning that are in the songs?
This is our fifth Brainstorm album and the third for Metal Blade and for us it turned out to be something really special. Since we began writing on the new songs we have been on a long European tour with Gravedigger and as soon as we played the summer festivals in Europe we began started working on new songs last year in September. We do recognize that there is a kind of special feeling for the new album, which ended in the trilogy with Soul Temptation as the title track, which is a story about some kind of a tragic hero that gets imprisoned in the dungeons and his soul gets tempted by Shiva who is the lady on the cover. I think that it is the most varied Brainstorm album so far.

Speaking of the cover, I wanted to inquire about the artist because I think the work is brilliant.
The artist is named Jan Meininghaus who is a cover artist from Germany. And as you said he is one of the most talented cover artists we have here in Europe and we are very proud to be working with him for the second time as he also did the Metus Mortis cover on the previous album. He is very talented and he is very willing to realize the bands idea, which is really cool.

Yeah it is very killer artwork.
Thank you.

I wanted to talk about the band for a minute. You guys have been around since about 1989 and that is quite an achievement to have a band stay around for that long and withstand the test of time.
Definitely, we didn’t know that it would turn out that long (Laughs). We started back in 89 together with Milan, the other guitar player Dieter, myself and then Andy the bass player joined us in 1991, so four of us have been committed now for a very long time. We released several demo tapes between 1990 and 96 and it took seven years to get signed to the first record contract with B.O. Records which was a small label and kind of a sub-label of Lost Episode Records. It turned out very well the first year and half with the first record Hungry that we released in 1997, which was accompanied by a tour with Morgana Lefay and Solitude Aeternus through Europe and was followed some weeks later with Skyclad and Maraya.

So then we released the second album Unholy and we got the chance to work with Charlie Bauerfeind who is a very good producer and Dirk Schlächter, the bass player for Gamma Ray who recorded most parts of the album. That was followed by a tour through Europe with Iced Earth and Sentenced. That was a very long tour with about 30 days and maybe two days off but it was very cool. On that tour we already had a new vocalist because Markus, our vocalist on the first two albums decided to leave us right after the release of Unholy because he did not want to make this sort of music anymore. Then we had the label change to Metal Blade and we got out of the contract with B.O., which took a lot of time and money for lawyers (laughs). But it worked out well and we are very happy and lucky to be with Metal Blade. We released the Ambiguity album in 200 followed by a tour with Armored Saint and Jacobs.

Then we come to the Metus Mortis album, which was released in 2001, followed by the Gravedigger tour and many, many festivals and many top ten rankings in print media, which was very cool, and this was our most successful album so far. And that is where we are now. We just released Soul Temptation in June and we entered the German charts ranked at 73, which was very cool. So we are waiting for the things to come, we played two festivals already with Blind Guardian and now we are planning a tour which will start the beginning of next year and it looks like we go on tour with Primal Fear and it seems if this will be our longest tour ever and we will run though many countries.

Are you going to come to the US?
We definitely want to but this will depend on sales and if we get the chance and the offer to jump on the tour. Maybe if Primal Fear comes to the US we will of course try to be on their tour.

You have been through a few singers in the band but now do you feel the current line up is here to stay?
Yeah, I definitely think so. There have been 3 vocalists in almost 8 years so that is not too many if you see it from that point of view. We all knew Andy before he joined Brainstorm and we all knew what he was like and we knew about his qualities and things like that. I think it was definitely the right decision. We actually talked about doing something with him before he joined Brainstorm and so as we started speaking about getting him as a permanent vocalist and member of the band it was a very easy decision and he has almost been in the band for three years now.

Being considered a Power metal band, what would you say are some of the differences of the past power metal and the current form?
I don’t think that there are so many differences and it depends on the band and how they play their kind of power metal. From what we had in the 80’s or the beginning of the 90’s with bands like Savatage and Metal Church I think that it is the same kind of music put into the new millennium.

I would say that I hear a twinge of Helloween and Queensryche in your music. Would you site these bands as influences and what are some of your other influences?
Queensryche is definitely a great band and of course I like their music very much but I think that we should mainly create our own style of music over the years. I think that it is too easy to say, “You sound like this band or that band” but every band has its influences. One of the bands that we really like is Judas Priest who is one of our big heroes but all of the members have different favorites. I think many of the old heroes like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden created the Brainstorm sound.

What would you say your top five bands are?
1. Judas Priest and we’ll see what they come up with having Halford back in the band.
2. The Riot
3. Queensryche
4. Annihilator
5. Black Sabbath

What is the oddest thing that has happened to you on tour?
Every day something odd happens but of course there is a lot of surprises when you play far from home and we are in a lucky situation to say that nothing bad has happened to us on tour. A very strange thing happened when we touring with Armored Saint and Andy our vocalist broke his collarbone and he was onstage with his arm taped and everything like that. When we played in Greece he had another falldown and was not able to go on and had to go to the hospital. We talked about we were going to do because we did not want to cancel the tour so I took on lead vocals for about 5 shows until Andy got back from the hospital. It was very strange but it was rock and roll (laughs).

If you were to do something besides be a musician…anything at all. What would you do?
I am very lucky being a musician and I am very lucky with what I have besides making music with having a loving family with two healthy children and a wife that supports everything that I do and that is what I am thankful about. I don’t have any thoughts about if there would be anything else.

To wrap things up would you like to say anything to all the readers out there?
Of course, I hope that all of our fans enjoy the new album as much as we do and for us it is something very special and hopefully we get a chance to come to the US.

Thanks to Todde for taking his time for this interview and be sure to pick up the newest release from Brainstorm, “Soul Temptation”. For any news and touring info stop by the Brainstorm official site and of course visit their label Metal Blade Records website for a entire arsenal of great bands and merchandise.

Links of interest:

Metal Blade Records