The Hannover based metal quintet of Galloglass return with their second studio album, Heavenseeker, the follow up to their promising debut, Legends From Now and Forevermore. While not delivering any crushing surprises that first album still stood out a little more from the crowd than the ordinary power metal album with its touches of Blind Guardian, Elvenking and even Rhapsody to some extent. The band kept strong pagan/folk/Medieval inspired inputs firmly in place and additional instruments like violin, flute and oboe provided great musical inclusions that together with the more standard German power metal gave the band an interesting aura and sent quite strong hopes about their new release my way. With Heavenseeker though, Galloglass seem to be willing to expand/change their horizons a little as an attempt to get a more firm grip of a more unique sound. In this process the sonical approach has shifted away a little from the more folk music end of the metal spectrum on behalf of more furious guitars, at points definitely thrash-like, and overall a heavier and more aggressive sound.
This is put to the test right away as a blistering main riff opens the album and Burden of Grief and already on this track you realise that Galloglass have steered away from what they originally provided. This is a quite exciting and powerful beginning though and contains a strong chorus and a fast and intense pace from the very start. A good song but nothing that causes any feverish anticipations and the album then continues with one of the true highlights: After Forever. The intro is basically a fusion of a heavy thrashy riff and atmospheric violin and shows that not all folk music inspiration has been lost. The song also gives a very epic feeling and the additional death growls set a more aggressive character that further enhance Galloglass newer sound. Another speedy and heavy guitar riff kicks off song number three, Perished In Flames, and this one sounds much more like something intended for their first album. The classical guitar section in the middle of the song and the more direct power metal edge makes it a quite joyful listening experience.
Next delivery is Dawn Of A New Age and that's also one of my personal favourites on this release. Great and many harmonies, atmospheric choirs and a magnificient violin/guitar middle section and final minute make this song feel very epic despite rounding off under less than five minutes. Another album highlight then follows in Bannished From Eternity. Once again a great violin/guitar collaboration sets the introductory tone and the song has perhaps the most memorable refrain on the release. The female choirs really takes this one to an individual high grade, once again the death metal voice takes flight and the xylophone at the end finishes it off in great form. At the Shadowcross and To Kneel is to Suffer are both pretty similar in a the standard power metal fashion but could also be said to have a little anthemic touch without ending up among the better material. The title track and Beyond the Mirror again show Galloglass newfound thrash and power metal mix but neither of these really do the album many favours in raising the number of chalices. The concluding Kings Who Die instead has to step in and put matters back to higher levels again. This camp fire ballad style number is one of Galloglass finest compositions to date and even the masters of this type of songs, Blind Guardian, should stare a little with awe and envy in this direction. The hymnic song really sets a very epic mood and the everpresent background chanting choirs and hypnotic intro/outro section are the main instalments that puts a fine ending to an otherwise quite pale release seen as a whole.
Heavenseeker is of course not falling into obscurity right away, since some of the aforementioned songs stick at least for a while but I had actually expected a whole lot more. The energetic pace is a very welcome setting though and Heavenseeker is truly a very intense album with some real good violin parts. Those are however also the only tendencies of Medieval touches and I definitely think that it's those fragments that absolutely provide the best results for Galloglass and is the direction I strongly suggest they return to. The vocals by Carsten Frank don't feel that engaging and inspiring this time either. On the debut he really put up a great performance but here his efforts aren't hearkening back to those levels at all. As a whole this album just ebbs and flows a bit too much and especially in terms of compositional quality and tracks to really put in the spotlight. There are good numbers as you have read but not they are a bit too few and on many occations a really great guitar passage or violin/guitar collaboration surface in the songs but then slip away instead of being developed further and built more around. While Legends of Now and Forevermore wasn't the most cutting edge metal album released it still certainly promised more than what Heavenseeker delivers so to recommend it to others than the true die hard band purists just seems a too risky proposition.
Curiosa: Since the release of this album though, bass player Dirk Zemler has been replaced by ex-Taraxacum bassist Shaker Elmosa and Carsten Frank has left the band on behalf of current Threshold vocalist Andrew McDermott so perhaps with these two in the line up the next Galloglass studio adventure will be a much more fertile one.
also review of: Legends
From Now And Forevermore