Review Summary: The material that's good isn't just good; it's astonishing. I just wish there was a bit more of it.
Heavenly is a name that doesn't seem to hold much weight in most metal circles. Mostly because if you mention it, people will have no idea who you're talking about. Maybe this is because France (the country from which the band originates) isn't normally associated with the hight-octane power metal tag. Or maybe it's down to the simple fact that the band has utterly failed at marketing themselves. Regardless, they have one of the highest "quality of music to lack of fame" ratios I have ever encountered.
My respect for this band is undying and that respect starts with their third album, Dust to Dust
Dust to Dust
is a concept album that follows "...a man seeking revenge upon the Master of Doom for transforming him into a vampire and forcing him to prey on the innocent for eternity." That quote was shamelessly lifted off Wikipedia as I don't much care for concept albums or lyrics in general, but those that do now have an idea of what this album's about conceptually.
In terms of musical style, Dust to Dust
can be described as energetic, technical, melodic, and most of all insanely
catchy. It's a European power metal album, but you'll find sprinklings of speed, neoclassical, and prog metal throughout. It's a very versatile album, through and through. You'll hear songs characterized by unrelenting speedy metal such as Keepers of the Earth, but those moments are almost equally offset by slow, emotive, and touching tracks such as Illusion Part I. The band also combines the yin and the yang within the span of single tracks, such as Miracle (probably the
most versatile and awe-inspiring track on the album, in fact). They manage this effortlessly, the transitions between the ballady and energetic bits sounding unforced and always capturing your attention. The good moments on this album are just good in so many ways. They're powerful and grand, the melodies unforgettable.
The musicianship on all fronts is stellar. The guitar, while showing lots of speed and technicality, is never overindulgent and remains tasteful throughout (many power metal bands should take note). The keyboards, also played with immense skill, are the driving force of melody on the album and are responsible for some of its most memorable moments. Then there's Benjamin Sotto, the vocalist. My god. I won't bother trying to explain his performance or general stylings. Just. Listen
I guess at this point you're wondering why I've rated this album lower than a 5. I'll get to that in one moment, but first, the music that I've described is truly deserving of a 5. That is, utter perfection.
That's why it's such a shame that the quality dips on track 8, then again on tracks 11 and 12. What's wrong with them is that, though maintaining the style of the rest of the tracks, they just feel like lesser versions, songs deserving of B-sides. They're not all that catchy or memorable. Though for a 70 minute album, it's almost unfair to think Heavenly would have been able to achieve perfect consistency. I only wish they cut out the three weak tracks; if they did then this album would have been perfect. In the end, the first half hour of the album is a stretch of some of the finest music I have ever heard in my life. The album dips on track 8 but then picks itself back up (somehow even higher) by track 9 on Miracle and continues on Fight for Deliverance, but the quality declines and the album fades out with the lesser material. Unfortunately, since the majority of the poor music is within the final moments of the album, the listener is left on a rather sour note. The album redeems itself slightly on the final track ...Dust to Dust, but it just isn't enough to bring back the hype instilled from moments earlier in the album.
In conclusion, Dust to Dust is jaw-droppingly good. 3/4 of it, anyway. Heavenly raise colossal expectations for themselves on their good tracks, and the lesser material (that on any other album would be considered very good) bogs the whole experience down. I still recommend this album wholeheartedly though. The majority of it is astounding.