Journey Of Souls
7/11/2008 - Review by: Brad Caplan
Space Power-Pop-Metal from Norway...
If you are still reading then you must at least have a passing interest in bands such as Sonata Arctica, Stratovarius and other European symphonic/power metal bands. I was not aware of Keldian when I was asked to review their new album "Journey of Souls". This is actually their second release in less than 2 years - their debut cd is titled "Heaven's Gate". I am not sure "band" is the correct term in this case - a better word would be project or joint venture. Keldian is two Norwegians (Christer Andresen and Arild Aardalen) who got together to make their version of metal. They have a host of guest vocalists, strings players and drummers. One guest of note is their friend Jorn (Holen) who stepped in to provide the backbone for the new music. Jorn is well known as the drummer for Norwegian black metallers Windir and Vreid. (I prefer Dimmu Borgir, but that is a story for another day). I don't know how many people are familiar with bands/projects such as Avantasia or Ayreon, but all these guest musicians remind me of one of those types of projects (and I like those bands so I was eager to dig into this cd).
Enough about the band - what about the music? The first track "The Last Frontier" jumps right out of the gates and sounds like Euro-Power Metal all the way. I thought it sounded just like Pagan's Minds or Sonata Arctica almost immediately. Soaring clean vocals combined with some double base and strong keyboards - nothing new, but a good opener to the album.
Some 80's influences really start to come through in the 2nd track "Lords of Polaris". I was a bit surprised that the album took such a quick detour. This song sounds more like an Asia tune than power metal. This one let's you know that this album might be more than your first impressions would indicate. I found this song to be a bit dated in its sound, but still quite interesting. There was even a bit of a "new age" feel to it. I know this sounds strange, but it's really difficult to put a label on this style.
"Reaper" features keyboards that are almost reminiscent of the 80's band Survivor. There are a ton of 80's sounds on this album, but mixed with a heavier sound and some double bass beats. When Christer sings in his lower and mid registers he does sound like John Payne who sang on a few Asia albums after John Wetton departed. Again, this third track is not power metal, this is 80's influenced pop rock music. Very catchy, but not as much substance as I would like. Even the guitar solo is very "studio musician" clean - not something you would hear blasting from stage at a metal show. "Ghost of Icarus" takes us right back into power metal universe. I like both styles of music on this album, and it is unusual to hear such musical diversity from a band on one album.
The sound and production quality on this album are very good. I read that Arild is also a sound engineer so that might account for the good sound. My only complaint would be that it all sounds just a little too neat and too perfect, but with all the technology available today to producers and engineers I guess it's hard to let any of the live sound come through. On the other hand, I doubt that this band has played very many live shows and thus have not really cultivated a "live" sound.
Another track worth mentioning is "Vinland" which features some female vocals. There are few women with vocal credits so I am not sure who is singing on this track. This is very unusual song - part power metal and part merry go round. You'll know what I mean if you hear the unusual keyboard sections.
The lyrical content of this album seems to be a mix of "man's place in the universe" combined with a spiritual journey. These lines are representative of the style of writing that you will find: "forever in this life, we sail the sea of stars we ride the winds of light, across the cosmic night." Pretty deep stuff, but it fits the music quite well and is a nice break from songs of love, war or politics that we are exposed to so frequently.
I am always interested to hear real musicians trying to forge a new style or at least their style of metal. If you are a power metal fan and looking for something new and different - then Keldian might be the ticket. Bottom line - these guys are really just getting started. They show some real potential, but need to continue to develop their style. It will be interesting to see where they go.
Band Members featured on JOURNEY OF SOULS:
Christer Andresen- Lead Vocals, Guitars, Bass
Arild Aardalen- Keyboards, Additional Vocals
Anette Fodnes- Vocals
Anne Marit Bergheim- Vocals, Mandolin
Asle Tronrud- Harding Fiddle
Gjermund Elgenes- Vocals
Gunhild Mathea Olaussen- Violin
Jorn Holen- Drums
Maja Svisdahl- Vocals
Per Hillestad- Drums
7/11/2008 - Review by: Raising Iron
Keldian is a relatively new band out of Norway, and "Journey Of Souls" is their sophomore effort. Consisting of merely two band members proper, they've put together a very well-executed album. This is melodic power metal with a heavy emphasis on "melodic". The keyboards really carry the day here. Strong melodies move the songs along at a speedy pace ala Sonata Arctica or Stratovarius at their happiest moments. The vocals are ok, but the vocalist's range is limited. I found myself at times wishing the female backing vocalist was actually the lead. She has a very smooth, creamy tone and it's a nice juxtaposition against the tenor from Christer Andresen. Choruses are catchy, as per usual at this end of the metal pool, and the production, although crisp and clear, is all in the mids. There really isn't any bottom end here, and I've got to assume the drumming is programmed; it's very mechanistic and minimalistic.
What really soars here though is the strength of song. I don't usually go for my metal this sweet and sugary, but there is a lot of variation to be found on this disc and like I said earlier, the songs move at a good clip. Other than the nine minute epic, "Memento Mori", all the tracks come in around the 5 minute mark or less. Highlights of the album include the song "Vinland" which has some nice, folky interludes; but what is probably the best track, "The Devil In Me", has a great chorus with male and female alternating vox, a *gasp* "heavy" chorus, and a nice violin movement toward the middle of the piece.
So, ultimately what we have here is another somewhat rote melodic power metal act who have a knack for good writing. I suppose I'd be more enamored with this cd if the scene wasn't already glutted with this style of metal, but I'm still recommending it based on strength of song and the variation found therein. If you're a fan of the lighter side of metal, you surely will not be disappointed.
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