HEAVENLY
"Virus"

(Locomotive)

01. The Dark Memories
02. Spill Blood on Fire
03. Virus
04. The Power and the Fury
05. Wasted Time
06. Bravery In the Field
07. Liberty
08. When the Rain Begins to Fall
09. The Prince of the World

RATING: 7.5/10

In the mood for some loopy, out-to-lunch, impossibly happy virtuoso power metal? And you've already worn out your GAMMA RAY albums? While the world has soiled its collective drawers over the likes of DRAGONFORCE, French power metallers HEAVENLY have been quietly (sales and acclaim-wise, at least) been building a body of work that no one would call wildly unique, but whose infectious melodies and attention to detail make them stellar.

Simply put, if you can get past the fact that the band is utterly without original merit — I mean, there are passages that sound flat-out stolen from other bands — there is not one thing remotely wrong with "Virus". The band's enthusiasm for the power metal genre is obvious, and they don't miss a beat — they know just when to change chords mid-verse to make a song that much more swelling and anthemic, they know when to change the tempo at the end to make things even more majestic and regal, and they know just how many keyboards to drape over a song to give it a studio-perfect gloss, without obscuring the speedy, happy riffs (except possibly on "When the Rains Begin to Fall", a song so overloaded with zippy, amiably dated '80s synth lines it'd make the guy who wrote "Axel F" go into a diabetic coma).

There's just not much else to say about HEAVENLY — four albums in, and they're still raiding Kai Hansen's trash bin for ideas, listening through the wall of his house as he listens to QUEEN to swipe stuff. And while this would be an indictment to almost any other band, the undeniable fact is that HEAVENLY is fucking ace at it, so good that their transgressions are instantly forgotten in the majesty of "The Prince of the World", the rockin' swing of "Spill Blood on Fire" and the glorious riffery of the title track. You just can't stay mad at these guys, and if you can't take them a hundred percent seriously at this stage in their life, you could certainly do worse than to lend them an hour of your time.

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