Heliosage (Symphonic Power Metal) - 'Towers in the Distance' CD Review ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Heliosage (Symphonic Power Metal) - 'Towers in the Distance' CD Review

(Note: This single was released last year and is not on the full-length album)

Heliosage (Symphonic Power Metal) - 'Towers in the Distance' CD Review
Outside of Operatika, I haven’t seen too many US bands successfully pull off the Nordic symphonic power metal sounds of bands like Nightwish, Therion and Epica. Texas-to-Minnesota transplants Heliosaga’s self-released debut, Towers in the Distance, is an exception to this rule as the band’s ornate and majestic sounds are very comparable to these aforementioned bands. Heliosaga’s sound focuses around the soaring operatic and emotive vocals of classically trained singer Chelsea Knaack along with the melodic, yet aggressive, guitar riffs and solos and dense, swirling keyboard sounds of band leader and principal songwriter Damien Villarreal.

The band’s core sound can be heard in the riff-heavy power metal of “A Tower So Tall” “To Heal All Wounds” and “Lost”, all three of which highlight the band’s heavier side with aggressive, chugging guitar work and shredding solos. Heliosaga isn’t afraid to stray from their core as, musically, the band touches on a variety of styles across this disc. One of the highlights is the epic ‘Iron Maiden like’ rocker “All Souls”, where this 9+ minute song brings in significant proggy elements and tempo changes that will hold the listener captivated. Other styles range from the mid-tempo symphonic prog rock of “Edenscar” to the slow burning ethereal exorcisms of “Hideaway”. There are also a number of hard rock stops in between these points where Villareal’s riffs border on thrash.

While the vocals are upfront on all of the tracks, Knaack’s hypnotic vocals complement the instrumentation and never attempt to overpower it. Her vocals are the highlight of tracks like “Hideaway”, which adds angelic backing vocals that rise to the level of harmonies, and “Hunter’s Moon”, which is a hard rock number where the guitars are dialed back to allow the vocals to shine.

Heliosaga has posted on their website that they are looking for a bassist and guitar player so it seems unlikely that there will be any live dates anytime soon but this will be something to watch for in the future.