Sometimes, it can be quite a tedious chore, trawling through mountainous seas of music that falls under the vague umbrella of Female Fronted Metal but occasionally, a little gem appears, shining from the gloom, and demanding of a closer inspection.
Such a gem fell into my lap in the form of Heliosaga’s debut album ’Towers In The Distance’, a band that if I’m honest, I had not heard anything of before, and in a way, that was a great starting point to explore the album from, devoid as I was, of any preconceptions about style, sound or content.
Whilst stylistically, the album follows many a well worn, tried and tested route along the Symphonic Power Metal highway, it still needs to be done well to achieve any modicum of success, and this album is done really well indeed. Obviously, the initial ’wow factor’ is caused by the superb vocal performance of Chelsea Knaack , a performance that succeeds in being as commanding as it is subtle, able to retain the pure essence of emotional fragility and soulful storytelling, balanced against a level of technical mastery that many would fail to match.
Opening track ’A Tower So Tall’, lays a great foundation for the rest of the album to build upon, a fast paced riff and drum sound that ensures the song gallops along at a steady pace, all beautifully designed to let the ethereal vocal float along seamlessly. ’Lost’ continues in the same vein, maintaining a very healthy pace but the band are equally comfortable in slowing proceedings down with the wonderful ’Hideaway’, a track that really sees Chelsea hit the heights vocally, and is without doubt one of the albums highlights. To pick an out and out favourite on this , or any other album, is always a purely personal thing though, we all have different boxes to tick after all but I would hazard a guess that many a listener to ’Towers In The Distance’ would choose the album closer ’All Souls’, just under ten minutes of jaw dropping brilliance, packed with killer riffs, stuffed with tempo changes, and positively bursting at the seams with quality.
Heliosaga have come up with a seriously good debut album here, reminding me a little of Nightwish circa ’Oceanborn’ in places, and yet displaying sufficient originality to stand clear and rise above many other bands in the genre. A band well worth checking out and keeping an eye on, harboring as they do, the potential to become something a bit special.
Chelsea Knaack – Vocals
Damien Villarreal – Keyboards/Guitars
Jordan Ames – Drums
‘Towers In The Distance’ is available now