First Pennsylvania's PHARAOH knocks one out of the park with the superb MAIDEN-influenced, traditional/power metal leviathan "The Longest Night", and now Omaha, Nebraska's (yes, you read that right) CELLADOR delivers a crushing blow with a speeding power metal tour de force called "Enter Deception". Could it be that the Americans have stolen the fire from the European progenitors? I'm sure that won't spark any debate, now will it? "Enter Deception" is a stunning debut from an incredibly tight and immensely talented quintet of musicians from America's heartland.
Impossibly fast and catchy as hell, "Enter Deception" sounds more like a group of seasoned veterans than a young (late teens to early 20s) metal rabble from Omaha. Erik Rutan's trampoline-tight production unleashes the overwhelming power of these eight tracks (Metal Blade head honcho Brian Slagel is listed as executive producer). It starts and ends with the first-rate musicianship of each of the band members. The fleet fingered guitar work of Chris Petersen and Bill Hudson is simply stunning. The twin harmonies that grace each of these powerful tracks are nothing short of awe-inspiring. Switching effortlessly from crunching riffs to soaring solos to the aforementioned harmonies, the duo sets this baby ablaze. The rhythm section of drummer David Dahir and Valentin Rakhmanov is as much a test of human endurance as it is a muscle-bound display of instrumental prowess. I mean, wow, listening to these four guys fire off round after round is staggering, and guaranteed to leave the toughest of headbangers breathless. Lead vocalist Michael Gremio is equally dominant, his style taking the best of Bruce Dickinson's unmatched delivery and making it his own.
The songs? Every one is a highlight. Few albums maintain this level of consistency from track to track. Honestly, pick a song, any song. Largely unconcerned with tempo variation, the group attacks with a vengeance from beginning to end; every chorus is memorable and the intensity level never wanes. Whether it is the harmony vocals on the chorus of "Wakening" or the triumphant melodies of "No Chances Lost" and "A Sign Far Beyond", the quality level remains sky high.
Assuming you prefer the heavier end of power metal and can only fork out the bucks for a couple of albums this year, make it CELLADOR's "Enter Deception" and PHARAOH's "The Longest Night". In making your choice, those looking for more arrangement variation are advised to go with the latter, those desiring an unrelenting, go-for-the-throat attack may prefer the former.