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Heavenly - "Carpe Diem" (CD)

Heavenly - "Carpe Diem" CD cover image

"Carpe Diem" track listing:

1. Carpe Diem (4:50)
2. Lost In Your Eyes (3:48)
3. Farewell (5:02)
4. Full Moon (4:57)
5. A Better Me (6:08)
6. Ashen Paradise (5:22)
7. The Face Of Truth (5:54)
8. Ode To Joy (4:53)
9. Save Our Souls (4:20)

Reviewed by on March 1, 2010

"Heavenly takes the neo-classical falsetto-keyboard-drama formula as far as any band since Queen."

Heavenly is another in the long line of AFM Records power metal artists. Do they differentiate themselves? Yes. How? First off, Heavenly gets male teens to actually pick the album off the shelf with the softly racy cover art. But more importantly Heavenly takes the neo-classical falsetto-keyboard-drama formula as far as any band since Queen. And they do it all with all seriousness and a straight face, which makes it a varied success instead of just a boring rip off.

The album opens with a surprisingly muscular riff on the title track and album opener “Carpe Diem.” The big backing vocals and falsettos aren’t far behind, but the tough riff returns for the guitar solo and bridge – certainly a promising start. “Full Moon” and “Ashen Paradise,” to name a couple more in the same vein, have quality as songs driven by Edguy and Primal Fear thrash-based riffs and the double-kick drums of Thomas Das Neves. While these songs have the power and pop making contributions, the lighter elements are more highlights that anything else.

There are a few rough patches however - “Lost In Your Eyes” starts with the sappy stuff and it seems like a song to skip. The band gets rolling right around the guitar solo and the whole thing changes gear. The last section just flies like a fighter jet and is phenomenal, but it is too bad the whole thing doesn’t rock. “Ode to Joy” and “Save Our Souls” play like filler as they carry up the rear of the album and the band seems to be out of ideas by then. Singer Ben Sotto has a musical and melodic quality that is quite good, but his actual falsetto can grate, and he isn’t shy about using it. And the band loves Queen, which seems like a cheap way to write music.

The two songs that initially stand out more than any other on the first spin are the Queen imitators: “Farewell” and “A Better Me.” It’s all there – the big falsetto, backing vocals, roller-coaster music, piano-driven balladry, and over-the-top drama. Despite my distaste for rip-offs, these songs work, and in a larger sense the whole album works, because of Heavenly’s completely straight delivery. There are no tongues in any cheeks, no twinkles in any eyes, no half-cocked eyebrows, and no crossed fingers. They play it all as seriously as they can, pushing the intent, execution, and drama as far as they possibly can.

Throwback music is gaining a lot of momentum in metal nowadays. Black metal, doom, stoner, death, thrash revival metal – all these subgenres are getting a huge influx of bands trying to get back to the music’s roots – to stay faithful to the forefathers, record on analog equipment, or just to be troo. These bands are getting critical and fan acclaim for their dedication to the music. But while these bands may make some great music, the irony is their ultimate purpose is to ape music that is decades old and sell their stuff as new and original by just getting back to basics. It’s a strategy, not musical inspiration.

Heavenly has taken the other angle. They just play what they want because they like it and believe in it, and they do it as best that they can, which is pretty good, by the way. Their no-hidden-agenda delivery makes it possible to listen to the album for what it is and nothing more – a huge, well-done, well-executed, and quite enjoyable piece of power metal.

Highs: The second half of “Lost In Your Eyes” just rips.

Lows: Ben Sotto’s actual falsetto is a bit grating.

Bottom line: French power metal that is well done despite the direct Queen imitations.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)