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Keldian - Journey of souls 5/5

Reviewed: 5-9-08


1. The last frontier
2. Lords of polaris
3. Reaper
4. The ghost of icarus
5. Memento mori
6. Vinland
7. The devil in me
8. Hyperion
9. God of war
10. Starchildren
11. Dreamcatcher

Those who are very close to me know that one of my favorite CDs is Keldian's debut 'Heaven's gate', and that I spin it regularly. Their cool power metal style with AOR influences is not only phenominal, but it's also extremely addictive. So their new 2nd CD 'Journey of souls' has easily been one of my most anticipated releases of the surrounding months and even years. In fact, I was almost scared to listen to it for the first time. Part of the fear was that it would be a disappointment as far as quality (aka "the sophomore slump"), but I was mostly worried that the band would completely change their direction (style), as there are countless bands that have done just that, even after a successful start.

Well, if you continually follow my writing and recommendations, and you picked up 'Heaven's gate', rest assured that the band has neither dropped in quality or changed their style. So as tentative as I was to start the first spin of 'Journey of souls', my heart-rate did eventually slow down and a feeling of calmness thankfully ran through me. That's right, just like the debut, the CD's base style is power metal with AOR influences, complete with the space/sci-fi lyrical content, amazing melodies and those extra-fun choruses, but that's not to say that there aren't minor changes, because there are. Firstly, this feels just a bit more experimental regarding the atmosphere and keys, almost like the Italian band Wonderland in a few spots (another favorite of mine!). Plus, although a violin made an appearance on the debut, it's much more present this time, and there's also the use of a mandoline and even a harding fiddle on one song (track 7 "The devil in me"). Actually, in a way, much of the CD could be considered progressive metal.

While Norwegian Keldian remains a 2-man band (the confident vocalist/guitarist/bassist Christer Andresen and the very talented keyboardist Arild Aardalen), they've again grabbed Jorn Holen for drums, as well as some guest musicians (regarding the aforementioned mandolin/harding fiddle) and a number of vocalists, including female vocalist Anette Fodnes, who makes an appearance on 6 songs. This is certainly a notable difference from 'Heaven's gate', as female vocals only exist on one song of the debut - the beautiful "Redshift". I surely like the extra female vocals (there are some spectacular harmonies!), and quite honestly, every other minor change.

As for tempo, while 'Heaven's gate' contained mostly fast songs and 2 slow songs (the aforementioned "Redshift" and the closer "Plains of forever"), 'Journey of souls' has less of the fast songs, but doesn't have any slow songs. There are slow parts, but for those of you who aren't really into "Redshift" and "Plains of forever" (basically, you prefer the band's faster side), you might end up liking 'Journey of souls' more. Personally, I absolutely love every song the band has given us, regardless of tempo; but to sum up, the general tempo of 'Journey of souls' is somewhere in the middle of the overall pace of 'Heaven's gate'.

Just like the debut, the CD has an exciting start and the first 2 tracks ("The last frontier" and "Lords of polaris") will definitely sound familiar to Keldian lovers. I really like the following track 3 "Reaper" with its great acoustic parts, and the fast-paced track 4 "The ghost of icarus" and track 6 "Vinland" (which features an amazing keyboard segment) are truly awesome! The long yet emotional and melodic track 5 "Memento mori", which seperates the 2 fast songs and varies in tempo, has a terrific guitar solo and is probably one of the most memorable songs. Track 7 "The devil in me", track 8 "Hyperion" and track 9 "God of war" are of the mid-paced/bouncy variety and are all fantastic, leading us to my favorite song - track 10 "Starchildren"! Its lead guitar is so catchy and it's probably got the best chorus as well. The following "Dreamcatcher" also has awesome lead guitar work too though, and it's one of those closers that urges you to start the CD all over again.

So we end up with a band that's now got 2 CDs in the "masterpiece" column, and believe it or not, the minor changes between 'Heaven's gate' and 'Journey of souls' emanate a band that has already evolved, though slightly. If you have the debut, you're going to love this too, and if you've yet to experience the magic of Keldian, I highly recommend doing so right away. We all have favorite bands, and Keldian is definitely one of mine!




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