I have no idea what happened. I remember buying CELESTY’S debut album “Reign Of Elements” some time ago and praising the group for its youth and raw appeal. I was shocked at the primal energy the group displayed while crafting a simple, easy to follow fantasy story and playing incredibly fast, technical and enjoyable Power Metal with flecks of neo-classical and symphonic elements. I have not picked up the two albums that followed it, but I always meant to, so when “Vendetta” was released I decided to just buy it and work my way backwards. Needless to say, compared to the debut, “Vendetta” is a whole other class of Metal.
From ALESTORM to TYR to STRATOVARIUS there have been a lot of high quality Power Metal released that have been trying to dethrone FAIRYLAND from the top spot of 2009 for me and this one, at first, seemed to accomplish that. The absolute shock and awe that came over the first couple of tracks was so astoundingly flooring that it was all I could do but keep myself from tearing up. The raw, primal band I once knew grew into this passionate, mature and unbelievably intelligent band and I couldn’t be happier.
Similar to THY MAJESTIE’S epic “Hastings 1066”, CELESTY hired a national choir and orchestra to assist in the production and much like their Italian brethren; they are utilized to their full capacity. It is track after track of sweeping orchestral movements and choral arrangements accompanying and complimenting the guitar, bass, keyboards and vocals to perfection. It’s hard to not get a little excited when the acoustic intro to “Autumn Leaves” closes and sudden, impactful washes of choirs rise to a majestic, double-bass driven Power Metal anthem.
As Power Metal bands mature, they tend to sacrifice their speed for their newfound emotional compositions, but this is a trapping CELESTY has skilfully avoided. Aside from the Dream Evil-like warrior ballad “Lord (Of This Kingdom)” and the intro Symphonic track, no song is free of a ripping, jet-engine tempo and this, in turn, does not swallow the emotional melodies. Speaking of emotion, few bands can evoke such heart-wrenching effects like CELESTY does on “Feared By Dawn” and “Greed & Vanity” which not only have sadistically addictive choruses but also use their melodies to bludgeon the listener with tear-jerking heart and beauty.
Musically, what can one say except that this is state-of-the-art Power Metal that while not as Thor’s-Hammer-to-the-face as STORMWARRIOR or IRON FIRE, it is still exceedingly competent, compelling and above all classy. The solos are all brilliant and full of the kind of virtuosic sweeps, taps and shreds that one can expect from the genre, but are still unique and never overstay their welcome. Check out the first full song “Euphoric Dream” to get a good feel as to how tight the band is despite being alongside a world-class orchestra and choir.
As each track ends and the next begins, a new chapter unfolds in the story that seems to be a continuation from the very first album. The simplicity of before is abandoned in favour of a much more complex and satisfying delivery. The liner notes are overflowing with descriptions, explanations and maps that serve to flesh the story out rather than completely tell it. If there is any issue I have with Symphonic Power Metal groups that make concept albums it’s that they tend to overdo it and their lyrics fail to tell the story on their own. This is yet another trapping that CELESTY avoids as the story is once again not difficult to follow but is still filled with nuance and intelligence that adds more depth to the passages and characters.
What stops this album from a perfect score however are the final moments of the album. Where the last 3 tracks are all outstanding in their own right, they do not feel quite as strong as the first 8. Indeed the epic 14-minute, 4-part finale “Legacy Of Hate Pt.3”, is decently memorable, however it is quite indulgent and preposterously pompous in its delivery. Parts of the song, particularly the middle 2 parts “Shadow Land” and “Chaos And Destruction” fit superbly with the rest of the album but they are bookended with some more Progressive and ill-fitting ballad-like sections, which unfortunately trip the flow.