Heavatar - All my kingdoms 3.5/5

Reviewed: 4-1-13





Tracklist:

1. Replica
2. Abracadabra
3. All My Kingdoms
4. Elysium at dawn
5. Long way home
6. Born to fly
7. Luna! Luna!
8. The look above
9. To the metal


The newest band on the power metal block is Germany’s Heavatar; a project band from the mastermind of the a cappella band Van Canto, Mr. Stefan Schmidt. On Heavatar’s debut CD named ‘All my kingdoms’, Schmidt again takes the reigns as singer, however the a cappella style is nowhere to be found, instead Schmidt makes himself heard with his 7-string rhythm guitar.

Joining the Heavatar project, which is all about modern power metal with neo-classical and symphonic elements is kick-ass drummer Jorg Michael (ex-Stratovarius/ex-Axel Rudi Pell/ex-Saxon), guitarist Sebastian Scharf (ex-Fading Starlight) and bassist Charles Greywolf (Powerwolf, Flowing Tears). One factor that is enjoyable with this release is the fusing of power metal with neo-classical and epic metal, and the end result would attract fans from numerous genres. The sound does not tend to stick to one metal genre for long periods of time, while overall the sound is quite unique; the heavier modern metal sound resonating nicely with the other elements. An interesting note worth mentioning here is that each song is inspired by a well-known motif of the great classic composers, from Bach and Beethoven, to Paganini’s Caprices.

The epic compositions are based on big choir arrangements, performed by Olaf Senkbeil (who has worked with bands such as Helloween and Freedom Call) and Hacky Hackman, both friends of Schmidt when they worked together at the Blind Guardian choir session for ‘At the edge of time’, and also Stefan’s band-mates from Van Canto. While all the songs on ‘All my kingdoms’ have that extravagant and epic feel to it, I do feel that Heavatar spent the majority of this CD in 4th gear where they could have moved up into that 5th gear on many occasions; and once I’ve finished listening I am left basically wanting more.

Stefan Schmidt’s vocals are also something that takes a bit of time getting used to. Typically for this style of metal, I expected a singer with a tendency for the higher range vocals as it is the norm, however Schmidt sings in a low to mid-range style with a raspy tinge, which initially kinda threw me. However with that said, once you get used to his style it actually sounds better than someone with a high range as it makes the music feel heavier. Kudos must be given to Jorg Michael for yet another splendid performance on this CD. After Jorg left Stratovarius in 2012, I was quite disappointed as I consider him to be one of the best drummers in the metal world, but hearing his amazing fills and overall intelligent, creative and powerful beats throughout this CD brought a smile back to my face.

The 9 tracks that make up ‘All my kingdoms’ are of a high quality, each with their own identities and structures; while the pace of the CD is generally mid to high. While some songs stand out above others, most would agree that their 11-minute epic and passionate track “The look above” is the opus of the bunch. Starting slowly with just synths, piano and Schmidt’s tender vocals, the choirs soon come in and the tempo rises considerably with Michael’s impeccable double-bass pummeling, noticeable heavy bass-lines at the forefront and catchy guitar riffs. Throughout the immense track, the tempo changes multiple times and is easily the most symphonic and atmospheric song on the CD. The title track and also “Elysion at dawn” are 2 more standouts that are sure to impress fans of numerous genres.

Despite being a solid and entertaining release and being able to pull off the feat of being original and refreshing while sitting in a heavily saturated genre where we’ve heard it all before, ‘All my kingdoms’ could be a possible hit ‘n’ miss depending on where the fan’s preference lies. However if you are into bands such as Van Canto (obviously), Vanden Plas, Kamelot, Sons of Seasons, Dark Moor, Symphony X, Blind Guardian, Magic Kingdom and Seventh Wonder, then there is a very good chance that Heavatar will appeal to you.



SEAN




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