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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.