Dust to Dust
posted on 2/2004 By:
If you were to ask me what particular aspect of horror fiction I find the least compelling, I would probably answer the cultural phenomena of Vampires. I really, really am not intrigued by this pseudo-sexual-narcissistic bullshit. When I saw Dracula on PBS at the age of nine, I was mildly interested I guess, and when I saw the original version a few years later I suppose I could appreciate it in the context of the time it was filmed, maybe even written. But what never happened was any kind of fear or repulsion or anything. Something about Vampires was best summed up by The Kids In The Hall in a skit about a Canadian guy who gets talked into homosexual activities by a fellow with 'Leafs tickets who ends up dressed as a Vampire for the seduction. Much love to my homosexual brothers, but you guys are not scary even when dressed like Bella Lugosi.
If you then asked me what type of Metal I find least compelling I would have to say modern power metal. Every cool thing about power metal was played to death in the eighties when I was an active participant in the Dio/Maiden/Grim Reaper mindset. Once I got a taste of thrash, speed metal and crossover, I lost interest in all but a very few VERY impressive power acts. And frankly, I haven't been overly impressed with any I have run across since then. Being campy to ape earlier unintentionally campy bands is not something to base a musical career on. Or so one would think.
So when I sat down to listen to Ashes to Ashes by Heavenly and read the press thingy, I noticed that not only was I about to hear power metal, but power metal based on the horrors of Vampirism. I was not so much excited as ecstatic. My hand nearly trembled with anticipation as I placed the disc into my Supertuner3. This review was going to be the BEST REVIEW EVER! I was going to tear these french bastards a brand new hole to stick their fucking tongues into. If I were a Vampire, I would have been giddy with bloodlust.
But...DAMMIT. I don't loathe it. If there were a God in heaven, I would beg him to help me, this CD is alright. It is, and I realize I have been using this word way too often lately in reviews - FUN. Energetic, operatic, perhaps a bit limp wristed at times, but there is simply no denying that it is entertaining me. At least for a while.
I think the two bands that come to mind when I hear this are old Queen and Blind Guardian. This is a band of tenor voiced singers and gang-harmonied lyrics, galloping rhythms and startlingly good musicianship. But there is something else I can't really identify that makes all this work. I don't know if this makes any sense, but Heavenly sounds more HONEST than most PM bands I hear. Like this is simply how they sound, unaffected, despite the campy, cheesy trappings. These guys are naturally campy cheesy people, I guess. Perhaps it's because this is authentic French Cheese, not the processed kind I am used to hearing.
Which is not to say that it's a 666 record. There are some parts that are so bad you can't ignore them. The lyrics, for instance. They are clear and understandable, to the detriment of the record. It's bad enough the story is about vampires...but the lyrics add insult to injury. They should have done it in French. And the singer does get tiresome, nasally and tenured to the point of emergency horn annoyance...but he doesn't overdo the vibrato, and he can get some GRRR in his voice that compensates for a lot of the air raid sirenishness. And when the band gang-sings it sounds very good, hence the old Queen reference.
The songwriting is another high point for a while. They overuse the gallop, of course, but they write melodies simple enough, yet complex enough to keep you guessing a little. Dynamically the songs are quite good. But this is a long record, and after a while it starts to wear thin. I mean, unless you really REALLY love this kind of thing there is a limit to what you can take. My limit is about 30 minutes. I tried listening to it in chunks to see if it was just wearisome but the songs actually deteriorated, and I have to say the quality stayed even, so it's probably my problem more than the bands.
Bottom Line: There is no overstating the cheese factor with this band or this album. The fact that I found myself getting into it at all is as amazing to me as anything in recent experience. But I have to be honest with everyone, including myself, honestly I enjoyed this record, to a point. Can I recommend this to my fellow metal fans? Yeah, I think so, but with reservations. Find a sample, see what you think. Maybe I am out here all alone on this one. I will listen to this again, either way.
Register to post comments.