Cellador - Leaving All Behind
New acquaintances again people and this time it's time to introduce Nebraska based Cellador to the Covenant readers. But you can start with forgetting anything about what you usually expect when dealing with American metal acts. Cellador have virtually nothing of that kind of traditional transatlantic sound but have instead adopted a full-blooded European bombastic speed/power metal edge with a maintained emphasis on the tuneful and melodic. Mid tempos aren't even close and ballads billions of light-years away as Cellador gets down to business. Leaving All Behind launches four straightforward tracks at almost superluminal velocity (slightly over-exaggerated I know ) and in those aspects instant comparisons to Dragonforce can be made. But those similarities mostly regard the pace of the music and the sole focus on speedy tracks and not the overall sound frame. However there are more parallels to be drawn to the UK colleagues and that's the praise and recognition Cellador has received from the underground demographics. In those environments Cellador have caused the same hype as the englishmen did when their Valley of the Damned was on everybody's lips. I definitely have to say that there are real reasons to this and to file Cellador under very interesting newcomers is an absolute given. Going back to the sound-description though there are, besides Dragonforce, also very clearly strong vibrant Helloween (Keeper of the Seven Keys I especially) tones and also touches of Metalium, and Domine are on the board here.
All four tracks are deeply rooted in speed and only slow down to something sniffing on slower up-tempo on few occasions and then only for 10-20 second periods, mostly occurring in the closing No Chances Lost. The overall sound is a bit "rattly" and agressive and that's mainly why I've given the Metalium reference. The resemblances with Domine mostly refer to the verse melody of the title track that easily could have been a very major input on any of the Italians' previous albums. But you can also find other touches from the European scene besides the ones already mentioned and a good example of that is the chorus of Seen Through Time that's got a very strong early Steel Attack flavour. But the overall and most prominent likenesses must still be regarded to be of the Helloweenish sort. The vocals of Michael Smith resemble Michael Kiske's in many aspects but the American's got more difficult holding the tone in the real high falsettos and doesn't quite reach the class of his German counterpart. Otherwise he feels very genuine and fits the sound of the band and their chosen style satisfactorily. And when leaning towards Helloween of that era of course there's also an abundance of excellent guitar playing on display. Many very intense power chord moments, lots of shredding and some seriously impressive guitar passages with lots of force and melody can be heard from the very first fire up moment. The instrumental sections are both effective and enormous and many double harmony solos light up the sound landscape like exploding fireworks across the heavens. The verses are very intense but remaining melodic enough to hum to while leading up to choruses that have the classic "lighter-moment" anthemic feel all over. All this is nicely supported by the thundering double bass kegs that roll like a giant thunderstorm supporting it all.
Being more specific song-wise, the true highlights and most captivating moments are definitely the two final tracks, despite that all four have ended up among the Staff picks. Forever Unbound has a very effective galloping verse rhythm that builds up to the best chorus of the album. Lots and lots of sing along potential on this one and it stays in your head for a long time after the CD stopped spinning that's for sure. The closing No Chances Lost shows the most variety compiles an immense intenseness and sets a very authoritative end to this bombastic output. The twin guitar assault highly triumphs on this release and it's quite amazing how many great tones some guitarists can force out of their instruments. Outstanding day on the job for the Petersen/Chathman duo!! And I also have to admit that it's really been a while since I heard this kind of playing and also music going in the melodic and speedy direction delivered with a freshness like Cellador does it. It sounds like they're really doing what they love, have fun while performing and have found a very solid platform to continue to build upon and develop from. The old European metal blood certainly still sings and proves to have a timeless aura all over when performed and expressed this impressively. Leaving All Behind is doubtlessly a surprisingly enjoyable sonical adventure that I strongly recommend all fans of the genre to dig much deeper into.
The quality is as you can guess by now extremely high despite that this was their self-financed and self-produced demo release. Right before this review was about to go on-line though, it was confirmed that Cellador have been signed by Metal Blade Records. And with more songs like these four up their sleeves and a slightly more versatile approach the Americans will definitely be to reckon with in the future, because if this is what they can accomplish on a self-financed basis, then what's in store next time will be probably be among the most interesting new-comer releases so far in the 21st century. Their first full length album is tentatively set to a spring of 2006 release and I'm positive that the continuing story of Cellador doubtlessly will turn into an extremely attention-grabbing experience. Mark my words when I say that Cellador is one of THE names to learn by heart!!!