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No matter what genre you consider, there are always bands that are emulated to no end. Bedroom black metal acts try to sound like Burzum or Xasthur while thrash bands try to sound like Exodus or Kreator. That's not to say that every new band out there takes its cues from each genre's stalwarts, but a vast majority of metal bands nowadays owe much of their sound and style to the bands that started a specific path. Shift gears to power metal: the sub-genre with, probably, the most copy cat acts ever. Enter the most copied power metal act of them all, Helloween.
You're thinking, what? This is a review about a Chilean power metal act, not a Helloween review. Well, it might as well be a Helloween review, because this band really takes its cues from a certain German power metal band that released a pair of albums called “The Keeper of the Seven Keys”. Cathalepsy is a power metal band from Chile who, to this date, has only released one full length, entitled “Fight in the Sky”.
Cathalepsy starts off the album, after the token symphonic intro track, with the scorching “Apocalypse”. Fast paced power chords and a running double bass pattern dominate, sounding strangely familiar to “Eagle Fly Free”. The band continue this pace and pattern for the majority of the album, rarely slowing down: chugging riffs, catchy lead work and galloping drum lines. The tracks are catchy enough, with plenty of lead riffs and poppy bass lines, but something is missing. It's probably the tongue in cheek humor that made the “Keepers” albums so absurdly enjoyable that's missing. While not original in the least bit, Cathalepsy pull of the early Helloween sound with gusto.
The lone ballad, “Legends Live Forever”, is weak, showing a simple piano line with minimalistic drumming and a rather weak vocal line. The problem with this ballad is that it takes so much momentum away. After five tracks of speedy power metal, this song completely takes the oomph away, and is, by far, the most stale and boring track on display here. The fast paced Helloween worship is this band's bread and butter, and, while it's far from the most original sound in the world, Cathalepsy plays this style with such conviction and enthusiasm that it's hard not to enjoy this on some inane, turn your brain off type way.
The vocals sound like a combination of early Michael Kiske and Anders Zackrisson (formerly of Nocturnal Rites). While that doesn't sound like a bad combo, the vocal lines don't offer much in the way of variety and become tiresome after a few listens. The fast paced guitar and drum work rarely let up, but, like I mentioned, it's what Cathalepsy does best. A little more depth in the songwriting wouldn't hurt, but Cathalepsy plays it safe by emulating Helloween, a style they are apt at chasing.
The production is so-so. The vocals sound distant and hollow, but strangely fitting given the style. The guitars and drums battle for closest place to the front while the bass plods along in the background, strangely audible and distant at the same time. Actually, the production is similar to the original “Keepers” albums: again following the Hello-weenies.
Cathalepsy is far from the most original band on the market. With a huge amount of power metal bands on the market in this day's metal market, Cathalepsy really has nothing new to offer you. If you want to listen to Helloween, listen to Helloween. If, for some strange reason, you feel compelled to own every album that sounds like a Helloween album, then by all means, find this. I feel like your money could be better spent on so many other things.