Heimdall - Lord Of The Sky


Year of Release: 1998
Label: Elevate Records
Catalog Number: ER02005
Format: CD
Total Time: 00:00:00

Who said that there aren't any bands out there that sound like Blind Guardian? Well, here is one - straight from Italy is Heimdall, which can easily be called "The Italian Blind Guardian". From the CD artwork, to the fantasy lyrics of warriors, gods, lands of ancient stones and the like, this band sound like it has been studying Blind Guardian for quite some time. To put it fair, I'd say that the band actually sounds like a combination of Hammerfall meets Blind Guardian, as the band just can't match the song structuring of Blind Guardian, but they sure do try. Along the way, get ready for choirs, narration, speed, double bass runs and the like. Unfortunately, this band can't match many of its predecessors, who include Blind Guardian, Hammerfall, Gamma Ray and others of this style, and here is why:

THE STYLE:

Musically, about like every band I've mentioned above. Huge, over the top song structures, complete with choir, narration and the like. The songs aren't nearly as thought provoking as Blind Guardian's, but the similarities are present. There are the complimentary speed runs, double bass, etc, and the galloping sounds of the "true" metal bands from the past and some from the present. Luckily the band does try to mix it up as best as they can, and at times do venture off into thoughtfulness making them sound oh-so-much like a Blind Guardian wannabe. For those of you who like putting on your suits of armor, shining up the steel, prepping the horse and getting ready to ride into battle, this band may do the trick, provided that all of the other requirements are met. I am not really a fan of this style of music, but I do appreciate bands that do it properly, and Hammerfall was the last band I thought that did it well and effortlessly. This band seems to be struggling through the motions, but the thoughts are certainly there.

THE BAND:

The band uses 2 guitarists, one of who doubles on keyboards, bass, drums and singer. I always found it hard to dissect the talents of the player in bands like this because of the cohesiveness of the sound and joint efforts of the guitarists to pull off music like this. So, suffice it to say that both guitarists are well schooled in the speed demon school of metal, and between the two, it's the sound of them that propels the disc. They won't win any awards for accuracy or stylishness, and sometimes the leads sound very forced and unrehearsed. It appears that the music gets ahead of them at times and you can almost hear them trying to catch up with themselves. The bass player is very good, and can be heard playing bass runs all over the place, aside and apart from what the guitarists are doing. It's cool to hear the guy trying to be different. The drummer is good as well, although again, I don't hear much difference in his playing than any other drummer of this style. All in all, the band is talented enough to pull off the music, although you can just hear them slipping sometimes

THE VOCALS:

Here is where the problems begin, at least for me anyway. I'll go on record and say that I'd rather much listen to Hansi Kursch singing this type of music rather than the Heimdall singer. Unfortunately for him, it takes at least an aggressive or a more forceful singer to keep up and match the emotion of the epic music, and Claudio Gallo just happens to be afflicted somewhat with the dreaded "Curse of the Italian Singer" disease. His voice is very tinny, whiny, and accented making it very hard to hear him over the music. You will find yourself buried nose deep in the lyric sheets trying to follow the story. Another minus for Claudio is that he is not quite adept at reaching a high range, but still insists on going there, and the strain is irritating to the ears. During some passages, you can actually hear him doing the Kursch growl, and it's just not happening. He should stay in his range, but knows that music like this requires at least some aggressiveness or high range, and he does not possess the voice to achieve this. In one vocal passage, in which he has to yell something without any music, you'd swear he just stripped his vocal cords clean and hurt himself doing so. Those of you, who don't have a problem with singers, just prepare for a thick accent. With a more forceful singer, this might have worked better.

THE PRODUCTION:

This may be another problem for some, and not a problem for others. Those of you who know what Skylark sounds like, fear not because this band sounds much better than that. However, don't expect a Blind Guardian type production either. Everything seems to be recorded at the same level, with every instrument at the same level as the vocals, which are at the same level of the choirs, etc, etc. This makes for a very uninteresting sound, and it's tough trying to fight through the guitars to hear the vocals and vice versa. The bottom end isn't too heavy either, and I find myself wanting to crank up the bass most of the time. The guitars aren't very crunchy, although one of them is usually playing a lead run anyway. The bass isn't too heavy, but you can still hear it for some reason. The drums should be a bit punchier, although the cymbals are very clean. Of all the instruments, I'd say that the drums are the easiest to hear. The vocals, as weak as they are, are also back in the mix, and it's a double whammy trying to deal with the tone of his voice AND trying to hear him at the same time. It's not a poor recording, but someone could have a done a much better job of making this band sound heavier I think.

THE COMMENTS:

This is not music that I normally listen to so my judgement is certainly foggy as far as this band goes. However, I can certainly appreciate what Blind Guardian is all about, and I do enjoy Hammerfall a great deal. I don't have any problem with fantasy lyrics, and bands can write about dragons, demons, swords and ancient stones forever and I'll listen. I just think that if you're going to do this style, you have to do it well and forceful. This band has the right idea, but they come up short in a few areas, starting with the vocals. As much as I don't like what Kursch sounds like, I'd much rather him sing this because the music can't overpower him. The Hammerfall singer is excellent as well. Here, the singer is clearly overpowered by the music, not to mention a bit shy in the range dept. The guitarists have the right idea, and the musical structures are there as well, it just seems that something is missing as a whole. I'd recommend this disc to any Blind Guardian fans, or Hammerfall fans that want a bit more complexity in their music. Beware of the singer, as I feel he just can't pull off the performance needed to make this work. For those who just want something else to provide a backdrop for their magical journey into battle, get out the gloves of steel and shine up the sword and ride on.


Tracklisting:
Halvor / Canticle Of Heimdall / Lord Of The Sky / Bifrost / The Island Of Ancient Stone / Under The Silent Moon / Fall Of The Bridge / Warriors Of Many Ages Past / The Challenge / Sunset / Epilogue

Musicians:
Claudio Gallo - vocals
Fabio Calluori - guitar
Carmelo Claps - guitar
Giovanni Canu - bass
Nicolas Calluori - drums

Discography:
Lord Of The Sky (1998)
The Temple Of Theil (1999)
The Almighty (2002)
Hard As Iron (2004)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin IT

Added: June 1st 2000
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri

Artist website: www.heimdall.it
Hits: 779
Language: english

  

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