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Celesty is an interesting band. None of their albums quite sound like any of the others, and no other band in the crowded Finnish power metal scene manages to duplicate their sound. This first effort, Reign Of Elements, is a significant step up from their demo days, with an added keyboard presence and improved production. However, they would never repeat this performance of hyperspeed, enthusiastic power metal. Celesty's future albums got more progressive and "serious" after this one, and while they are all great, this one is the greatest.
After the throwaway intro track, the listener is thrown right into the fire with "Charge", which is one of the best tracks on the album. It exemplifies everything that this band wants to achieve, with epic "fanfare" keyboards, double-bass drumming, a catchy chorus, and a brainbusting keyboard/guitar solo interchange. There are very few bands who are willing to go balls out with this kind of power metal, probably due to some misguided fear of being labeled "flower metal", but Celesty says "Fuck you!" to that.
The guitar work on this album is perfectly suited for this type of music. That is to say, you're going to get a lot of power chords. In order to keep the focus of the listener on the vocal melodies, there is very little in the way of innovative riffing. These days most power metal bands feel the need to throw in some classic heavy metal riffs or even some thrash-inspired stuff to compensate for their chosen genre, but again, Celesty has a big "Fuck off!" to say to those bands. At some point in the songwriting process they may have reluctantly written some half-assed Pantera rip-off riffs, then said "Nah, we'll just put a keyboard melody there", and thrown those riffs in the trash where they belong.
Given the emphasis on vocal lines, I am a bit underwhelmed by the vocalist, Kimmo Perämäki. He's accurate pitch-wise for the most part, but his voice is weak and his accent is very pronounced. He was replaced for the next album, which was a step forward for the band, as Antti Railio was a much more versatile vocalist than Kimmo. The lyrics are supposedly being "sung" by different "characters" in Celesty's B-level fantasy saga, but the only time we get an idea of this lyrical intricacy is when the vocals are replaced by pitch-shifted talking. In Celesty's followup disc, Legacy Of Hate, Antti chokes out some harsh vocals, but here we just have one guy singing all the "parts".
It goes without saying that the lyrics are typical of a young, non-English-speaking band; a grammarian's nightmare. But I doubt I could do any better writing lyrics in Finnish, and anyway, their proclamations of "We'll create you a sword from the stones!" are endearing.
The best part of this album is that there is only one ballad, and it is at the end of CD. I still don't understand why bands write this crap, but at least Celesty had the good sense to put their shitty romantic love song at a point in the album where you don't feel bad about skipping it. After a near-unheard-of SEVEN straight tracks of power metal majesty, I just can't sit through our goofy vocalist ("the king") talking about being held in the arms of his new queen while pansy-ass acoustic guitar twangs in the background.
Another excellent aspect of Reign of Elements is the solos. The keyboardist gets a lot of love on this album; between his constant use of piano, strings, and brass, and the solos he gets in seemingly every song, he pretty much never stops playing. The guitar solos shred wheat as well. Here's an excerpt from Celesty's imagined studio report: "What do we do between the second repetition of the chorus and the third? Hmm, how about ANOTHER SOLO??? Of course!"
Are you looking for an unbridled, unabashed display of fantasy power metal, but you've already listened to your Rhapsody discs? Or maybe you want some Finnish power metal that isn't a pop-oriented Sonata Arctica clone? Celesty is what you're looking for! Highly recommended.
The line of succession for Scandinavian power metal bands is fairly massive, and it is easy to pass off as generic anything that reasserts the established orthodoxies. For the most part, I tend to reserve the generic label for bands that simply go through the motions and don’t have any actual power to their sound, though distinctive elements tend to be required for this to work. Celesty fits into this succession somewhere between mid 90s Stratovarius meets Sonata Arctica model and the upbeat, happy character of Freedom Call. The formula is a clear convergence of Malmsteen inspired 80s guitar and keyboard madness with a more subtle approach to classical music elements, and the blistering speed metal formula of 80s Helloween, though faster and with a much louder drum presence.
If someone were looking for a genre redefining album, “Reign Of Elements” is probably the last place to look, as it simply revisits familiar territory, although it does it with a lot more intrigue and a tad more aggression than the lion’s share of Finnish bands. The riffing set is a mostly by the numbers hodgepodge of German and British bands from the early to mid 80s, going much closer to an arena sound than even the “Keepers” albums and putting a great deal of emphasis on vocal work and lead breaks. Sonata Arctica guitarist Jani Liimatainen cuts out a wicked shred break on “Revenge” for a one time guest slot, but in all honesty, Juha proves to be slightly more interesting of a soloist as his style isn’t quite as steeped in Timo Tolkki clichés. But the real attraction at this show is Kimmo Perämäki’s versatile mixture of high end wails and gritty power/thrash yells, reminding a tiny bit of Heavenly’s Ben Sotto actually.
As can be safely assumed by the era it is drawn from, this is one of those albums where the emphasis is clearly on speed. It doesn’t get quite as over the top as Dragonforce, and there is a bit more variety to their format, but it is pretty easy to understand how said band of Brits were able to sail into the scene given that albums like this point in that direction. Among the usual suspects of classic cookers with a slight helping of Freedom Call oriented chorus work are “Charge”, the title song “Reign Of Elements”, and “The Sword And The Shield”, mixing in a very familiar mix of notes and chords, over a tried and true blend of fast paced drumming, bass droning, and melodic material out of the vocals and keyboards. There’s not really any new territory explored, yet in spite of being easy to figure out, all of them are very easy to get into and hard to get out of. There’s no far reaching epics, no varying away from the formula apart from the ending token ballad “Kingdom”, which is a familiar staple of Stratovarius, but Celesty’s take on it reminds a bit more of Hammerfall.
If nothing else, this is a great album simply because it maximizes every element at play, though limited and largely familiar to most that have followed Stratovarius and Gamma Ray since the mid 90s. The voiceover narrations are a bit stupid sounding, but hey, we can’t all be Manowar now can we? It definitely challenges many of the lackluster works that started coming out of Finland in 2003, and could even be considered on equal terms with “Visions” when considering past albums with an influence on it. But for those who like to keep things basic and want their power metal easy to sing along to, Celesty’s work is pretty high up, and this particular lineup, which began rearranging immediately after this album, had the more unique and interesting character when compared to later studio work.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on January 27, 2011.
This album doesn't "stand out from the crowd", and it reminds me of DragonForce at times... but that's not necessarily a bad thing as said in another review. Yes, there are plenty of power metal bands that are being created lately, and yes, a lot of them are pretty boring, but this one is good.
Something these guys can do - and what some other bands can't do - is add amazing melodies to their songs. I don't give a fucking shit if it's been done a fucking trillion times before, in this sub-genre of metal it doesn't seem to get old.
Yes - everything is generic, from song structures to the cliched power chords.... but the melodies are just unique. Just listen to "Revenge" or "Reign Of Elements" and get ready to headbang FOREVER. Stand-out songs are the above-mentionned Revenge and Reign Of Elements, simply for containing great melodies and outstanding solos....
This whole album is very melodic and epic, one for every Power metal fan!
Celesty is one of those Power Metal bands that features a bunch of fruitcakes jumping around in tights on stage and blithering about The Gates of Lorkhan and the heroic battles along the Path of Mjornak up to the fires of Mount Doom . . . you get the idea. Real Dungeons & Dragons material. Fortunately, they can also play; thus, the very good Reign of Elements.
Reign of Elements consists of Celesty taking a bunch of basic melodies and playing a lot of guitar wankery around it, with the drummer pounding bloody hell in the background the whole time. Hey, if it works for Speed Metal . . .
In actuality, there is a lot of good material here. All the music is very epic and fantasy-based, with gliding major scales and vocals that define the word 'soaring'. The first real track on here is Charge, which is a high-speed heart-pumper with a lot of attitude and plenty of high notes. Revenge is a bit more mysterious in nature, inasmuch as really fast Power Metal can be mysterious. There is a lot of keyboard/piano work in here, making a very nice mix with the guitars and drums. Unfortunately, the double bass is almost nonexistent, which is a bit frustrating but does give the band a rather unique sound.
The closest comparison I can make soundwise would be Sonata Arctica. This band sounds very much like Sonata Arctica, with perhaps a little less variety (Celesty's songs tend to blend a little). Sometimes the fantasy-based ideals around which this album is based get a little out of hand: case in point is Reign of Elements (the song), where the band slows down in the middle so some epic, doom-sounding voice of the Dark Lord gloats over his release in prison while some pathetic guy pleads for his life, and death and destruction ensue . . . yadda yadda yadda, whatever. Go stuff a zucchini in your pants, guys.
Overall, though, this is good stuff. You may hate it, and you would have a point: this album appeals to a fairly specialized taste. It's worth listening to if you're a fan of Stratovarius, Sonata Arctica, Kamelot or Rhapsody (the lighter-sounding Power Metal). Give it a shot: you may surprise yourself. Just don't go wearing tights on me or anything.