Released: 2004, Noise Records
French melodic power metallers, Heavenly return with their third, and clearly best, release DUST TO DUST. Although this concept album is divided into 3 chapters, musically there is not noticeable difference between them, so I assume chapter divisions are for storyline. The story is atypical for a power metal band as it tells the story of a man bitten by a vampire who is then doomed to fight against the urge to feed throughout the centuries.
DUST TO DUST was mainly recorded in the band’s own studio in Hyeres in southern France. The sound of the album is as expected for this style of metal, immaculate. As for the actual songs, well, when Heavenly are good...they are great and such is the case for the majority of the CD with only a few songs that I’d call “filler”. Heavenly do not sound so much like Iron Savior like they often did on their debut, since Peit isn't doing his backups or producing. The band has significantly grown and has become much stronger. The songs that rule on this album stands as some of the very best that power metal has to offer. The downside is that the other tracks lost my attention and seemed like filler.
The CD opens with an intro with some speaking about vampires, sounds like Moonspell on the spoken section. After this typical intro we get to the killing track "Evil". The thundering drums are very much at the forefront here and right away had me nodding along due to their insane intensity. The song hardly lets up and is a power/speed metal masterpiece. Fans of Rhapsody or Gamma Ray will love this one right away. The melody lines and even the vocal style are VERY reminiscent of one of power metal's best bands - Gamma Ray. There is some very nice footwork on the bass drums during the guitar solo. At close to the 5min mark there is a mellow interlude that was unnecessary before it picks back up with another solo section. This song is a great album opener and shows a heavier side of Heavenly. This is not sickly sweet but has more in common with Gamma Ray. The Gamma Ray-ish "Lust For Life" starts out sounding a little like one of Nightwish's orchestrated songs before it moves into the main verses. The huge chorus sections sound very nice and powerful with all the vocals again in the Gamma Ray vein with the large group chant. Then it’s onto "Victory (Creature of the night)" which begins very sickly sweet with overly dramatic vocals and piano. When the drums/guitars come in it still has the ballad feel. At about 1:10 the song kicks in with the thundering drums and speedy riffing and redeems itself big time. "Illusion Part 1" and "Illusion Part 2 (The Call of the Wild)" in essence fit together as one song. The vocals on part 2 have some lines sung in a harsher voice that sounds a little forced. It's ok to add in something like this, but not when they sound forced. Since they are not overused it's not a problem for me anyway. This one also has noticeably cool ripping solos...not that the other tracks don't, but it stood out here for me. "The Ritual" begins with clean guitar and pseudo-choir like keys...the song while good, didn't seem to grab my attention to much. Same with "Keepers of the Earth" and the 2003 version of “Miracle”. “Fight For Deliverance” picks up the pace again and has the highest note on the album. Yngwie Malmsteen fans will appreciate “Hands of Darkness” which begins like a classic styled Yngwie song. The closing 2 songs “Kingdom Come” and “…Dust to Dust” didn’t grab my attention so much, but were not disappointments either.
Now that Heavenly has had more experience they are able to record an album that presents a more mature sound. The band has further developed their own power metal style putting them further up the heap of the power metal scene. While some songs on here didn’t grab me, the majority of them is great and definitely makes this worth checking into if you like speedy melodic power metal. If you previously wrote Heavenly off as a weak clone band, then this album should turn your opinion around. I know with each listen I like this album more and more.