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Heavenly Sign Of The Winner

By Daniel Höhr, European Correspondent
Thursday, December 27, 2001 @ 9:21 AM


(Noise)

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Now, what have we found here under the Christmas tree? A band called Heavenly. How appropriate. The four musicians Fred (guitar), Max (Drums), Ben (vocals) and PE (bass) released their Noise debut in 2000, Coming From The Sky. The album features a gueast appearance of ex-Helloween singer/guitarist and present Gamma Ray head Kai Hansen, who has also left his marks on the present release but this time as co-producer.

Heavenly play what is commonly called "power metal,” including all the necessary bits and pieces you expect from an album of this genre. The highly melodic vocal lines, Ben's high voice, the predictable chord progressions, the uniform double bass attacks, the cheesy attitude, tons and tons of unnecessary bombast and kitsch and finally the lyrics ("It's time for rebellion/Androids are living/Fantasy or nightmare/Human against his machine ") make the picture complete. Power metal with symphonic bombast has a renaissance over here in Europe (Fred Durst is for the kids), so there's a chance for many bands to have a bit of success before they slip back into obscurity. I'm afraid Heavenly might be one of them.

The album features nothing new. You get your occasional choir (e.g. "The Sandman"), lots and lots of massive keyboards (especially the constant harpsichord sound is irritating) and the usual fantasy clichés. It's all been done before, by Gamma Ray, by Rhapsody, by HammerFall, by Stratovarius... Apart from that, Heavenly turn out to be technically good players and Ben is not a bad singer either, but that's not everything. I really miss the feeling on the album. Everything sounds uniform and monotonous on Sign Of The Winner. The album seems to be going nowhere, it doesn't really rock and becomes a bit boring after a while.

As far as interesting bits of songwriting is concerned, I really like the piano part in "The Sandman.” The adoption of classical styles in the power metal genre (it's usually something baroque like Bach) is nothing new either, but if you're into that, you'll like the Swan Lake-style oboe"Until The End.”

Certainly nice as a Christmas present, but not really necessary.

*1/2


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