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Heavenly - 2009 Carpe Diem

ARTIST: Heavenly
ALBUM: Carpe Diem
LABEL: AFM Records
YEAR: 2009


LINEUP: Ben Sotto - vocals * Charley Corbiaux - guitars * Olivier Lapauze - guitars * Matthieu Plana - bass * Piwee - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Carpe Diem * 02 Lost In Your Eyes * 03 Farewell * 04 Fullmoon * 05 A Better Me * 06 Ashen Paradise * 07 The Face Of Truth * 08 Ode To Joy * 09 Save Our Souls



Heavenly are a neo classical metal band from France who have always been pretty adventurous in stretching their original power metal foundations. This time their appetite for even more dangerous activities has increased, even to the point of suicidal with death defying riffs, together with some interludes that have more than a passing resemblance to a certain piece of the English rock monarchy. While many lesser bands may have fallen and splinter into many parts, these guys have lived to tell the tale. Timing and album covers have always been a stumbling block for this band, for instance this being their 5th release it was issued on 21 December, either a very unwise decision by the record company or an inspired one to rack up a high position in various European album listings (if such a thing is important these days) due to the lack of new releases at this time, unless of course your label is Frontiers. Secondly the album cover, it still has a feel of 80's metal bands, well at least it's better than the cover of their previous release 'Virus', which incidently contains a true classic in the shape of ' Spill Blood On Fire', again I find this image very misleading and doesn't do the group any favours. That is my only criticism, and pretty minor at that because I feel finally after living somewhat in the shadows of Edguy, Sonata Arctica and Helloween they can easier now be mentioned in the same breath. They are producing very fine songs, power induced melody, which for some may find it hard to digest but I just lap it up. Like a cocktail that has a bitter lemon twist, so has a couple of their songs, with the introduction of Queen as a major influence, but a word of warning while Valensia and Robby Valentine overflow the cup with tributes, Heavenly only do it on a couple of occasions and after that they leave well alone as the rest of the album is for those liking a more powerful brand of metal, but always concentrating on melody, so be aware.

The Songs
The title track 'Carpe Diem' with its double blast beats opens to give an impression of any other power metal symphony. But it takes a cunning turn, with operatic female vocals and the pre chorus mixing pomp keyboards and a very strange connection to the TV series 'Fame' soundtrack before safely returning to an Edguy (when will they produce any album up to the quality of Mandrake? ) scintillating chorus. It's an exceptional opening, I haven't seen musicianship this good since the first couple of Adagio albums.

This high standard continues on 'Lost In Your Eyes' which could easier be from the pen of Oliver Hartmann (actually my favourite German appears later on 'Save Our Souls'). Symphonies gliding over a lake of ice, obviously been a lot of power lifting going on as the strength of the opening pairing have reached Olympic levels. ABBA influenced melodic metal, a close cousin to the Belarus Eurovision song 'Eyes That Never Lie' from 2009 by Petr Elfimov. It's 100mph AOR on speed.

If you were playing a game of metal top trumps and if you are lucky enough to have Kamelot in your pack then for sure they would win a round due to having Sascha Paeth and Miro as their production team (although the production on 'Carpe Diem' is also top drawer) but Heavenly would hit back with high mark for variety. There is a great example of this with 'Farewell', the first traces of Queen. It is a triumphant opening, glinting in the sunlight of Freddie Mercury. Of course it can be a trifle over bearing, but who cares, when the level of excess is achieved so well. This is not just contained to the vocals; it's also applicable to Sotto's fellow performers, the Brian May inspired guitaring, backing vocals, piano concerto, production and the immense feeling. Even the last notes have been sliced from 'Bohemian Rhapsody'.

If anything resembles a straightforward song for Heavenly then 'Fullmoon' fits this criteria. It still manages to have some intriguing piano play together with a nice melodic powerful verses and chorus. The high notes and vocals on display this time could this well be compared to Tony Mills, especially in his Shy days.

Whilst Queen have always taken on different countries influences, for instance Persian with 'Mustapha', the Spanish speaking countries in the Americas with' Las Palabras de Amor', the only French reference I could remember was the mention of 'Marie Antoinette' in the lyrics of 'Killer Queen'. But they must have made a big impression on Heavenly, because if you thought the earlier track 'Farewell' was just a mirage or an apparition of Queen, well 'A Better Me' is a 100% life like model of them. It contains enough Queen touches that it could be used as a promotional tool for the latest 'Queen Greatest Hits'. Typical flamboyant melodies, they have definitely pulled themselves into their all in one white cat suits.

The dial is retuned on 'Ashen Paradise' to the power drilling of Judas Priest with the orchestration and excitement of Kamelot. Still scarier than Helloween, these guys are no pumpkins, more of a randy stick of asparagus.

'The Face Of Truth' has some wonderful 'Psycho' like keyboard knife slashes, is another exceptional neo-classical symphony, so professionally overblown and more on the progressive metal side.

Not surprising that we begin with some classical music this time a tribute to Beethoven's Ninth, with 'Ode To Joy' being the last movement. Nothing new here really, much the same as what At Vance and Helloween would produce but heavier and faster than classic Rainbow. Actually the song contains more of they own works while just hijacking the killer parts of the old master.

As promised Oliver Hartmann makes a guest appearance on the last track being 'Save Our Souls', and provides a similar contribution which he provided on the last Avantasia album. Maybe Tobias Sammet could invite Sotto on his next project, because Sotto has been all over this album. This songs just rips through and a fitting ending to an excellent album.

In Summary
I spent 8 years on my childhood learning French at school and I am ashamed to omit that the only words I remember is 'Zut Alors', I am glad to say at no time when I listen to this album did I need to utter those words. I knew Heavenly were good, but I couldn't imagined or hoped that they would produce such a high quality recording. They are now on a raised platform, injecting variety to their songs to edge themselves past their adversaries. All the musicians here should take credit for some spectular performances, there is certainly a high body count of great songs scattered over this album.

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#1 | gdazegod on January 26 2010 06:08:39
The cover looks slightly porno don'tcha think? whistler
#2 | Eric on January 26 2010 13:19:30
Poped over to thier Myspace page- pretty cool sounds and another album for the want list... Smile

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