Released: 2001, Sanctuary Records
The melodic/speed/power metal pride of France has returned with their second album proving that Heavenly can stand on their own without the support and guidance of Kai Hansen (Gamma Ray) and Piet Sielk (Iron Savior). On their debut album they sounded closer to those two bands while now they sound closer in style to Kiske-era Helloween and Edguy. The most noticeable change to me is in the vocal department and the lead guitars. The vocals are much higher on this album. It’s not that they were not high on the debut, but this time they are high most all the time. The lead guitars have also become more prominent with lead melody lines happening throughout many of the songs. This is no doubt a result of having a new guy on lead guitar (Fred replaced Chris Savourey who played on the first album). The layering on the songs with the guitar parts, vocals, keys, backing vocals, etc makes for a very enjoyable listen for those of us who appreciate complex songs structures and arrangements.
The album begins with the intro instrumental song “Break The Silence.” Unlike some intros that seem to serve no purpose this one actually creates a buildup to the track “Destiny.” About a minute into this song the vocals cut in with an ear-piercing scream “Yeaaahhhhhh!!” Give it a few lines and you’ll instantly be thinking of Michael Kiske and Edguy (Tobias Sammet) vocals. The vocals sound like the higher vocals from these two guys. Heavenly’s vocalist, Ben Sotto, does not employ much from the lower vocal range like Tobias and Kiske often do. Lets just say if you like the more melodic, happier sounding speedy melodic power metal from classic Helloween, Edguy, and Stratovarius then you will take to this stuff right away. The album’s title track, “Sign of the Winner”, again made me think of Kiske…awesome! I was reminded of the Helloween song “Time” with the vocal melodies here. The solos in this song absolutely shred! Wow! “The World Will Be Better” has to be mentioned, because of the awesome vocal melodies. Especially on the verse where the vocals are not all ear splittingly high. Again I have to point out that Heavenly are not the “dungeons and dragons” variety of power metal. Those who never give this style of band a chance always think all power metal is about this stuff. There is nothing wrong with it, but it’s not what all power metal is about at all! The topic of the lyrics on this song is about the environment and it’s degradation by man – a message that Stratovarius has been promoting for many an album as well by the way!! The short semi-ballad “The Angel” is a perfect showcase for vocalist Ben Sotto’s talent. The track begins with Ben showing his awesome vocal control with perfect pitch and excellent vibrato. After this the backing choir vocals come it…talk about uplifting and glorious, similar to Rhapsody…simply amazing stuff! The only song that I didn’t like as much as the others was “Words of Change” – it has its moments but the overabundance of the all out high vocals seemed to get to me on this one. The album closer, “Until The End”, has Sotto sounding a little like Timo Kotipelto (Stratovarius) on the lower pitch parts. The harpsichord in this song also adds a nice flavor. As a whole this one seems to have more (neo) classical influence then the others.
While this album doesn’t offer anything we haven’t heard before, it doesn’t matter when it’s played with the musicianship and talent of these Frenchmen. If you like this style of metal watch for the album! One interesting point – the fantastic cover art was done by Herve Monjeaud. He also painted the album cover for the new Gamma Ray album – NO WORLD ORDER!
Official site: http://www.heavenly.fr.st/