Heavenly - Dust To Dust
True (Heavy) Metal
13 songs (70'13)
Release year: 2004
Heavenly, Sanctuary
Reviewed by Chris
Album of the year

If you had told me 2 years ago than the new Heavenly would be this unbelievable album I'm listening to day after day for the past 3 weeks now, I would not have believed you. I had the feeling that Sign Of The Winner would be difficult to equal... boy I had no idea ! Simply put : Dust to Dust is Not of this world!!! One of the best piece of music my ears have had the pleasure to listen to, as simple as that. So far the progress from one album to another is simply unbelievable, and I cannot conceive a forth album that tops this one, but this band might very well, in time, become the true metal band (a position that I believe is held by Edguy for now) ! I say in time cause so far Ben and the boys have shown how they could write incredible songs inspired from the best metal acts previously : Gamma Ray, Helloween, Stratovarius and Angra as main source of inspiration. Now you can add Edguy (& Avantasia), Rhapsody and Freedom Call to the list too. But where too many bands would simply copycat a style, Heavenly takes the best of all these musical worlds, assimiliating the best elements from the mentionned band, and creating a magical merge that gives birth to Heavenly, delivering you a pure True Metal experience !

The first thing that strikes is the production... we've changed galaxies compared to Sign Of The Winner which suffered from a good but lacking production (in terms of power). You want power ? well, you've never heard the sound of power metal drums unless you listen to Dust to Dust, thanks to the crystal clear production by Sasha Paeth (Kamelot, Rhapsody,...) without any doubt the best true metal producer. Now as for the album itself, it lasts more than 70 minutes. Now, what I believe truly makes Dust to Dust an instant classic and a true masterpiece is the songwriting, when most metal bands deliver you structured songs (verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus), Heavenly puts breaks and solos at any place in the song, giving the album a little crazy progressiveness that can only remind Children Of Bodom's Hatebreeder or the magical songwriting of Lost Horizon.

Now about the songs, I could write a book about each and every one of them, but I won't cause I don't want to spoil this discharge of pleasure that I'm sure you'll fell, like I did at my first listen (and now still), when you'll listen to Dust To Dust ! On the list of changes, the vocals now vary more, you'll be able to appreciate many more facets of the incredible range of vocal abilities of Ben Soto, and also some more personality to them (before they where pretty much a merge of Kiske and Matos... now his vocals are so much more !). There is less higher vocals moments, though you get the usual high pitch vocals then and there, but they aren't as widely used as before, and if you ask me that's all the better. Ben will make a very convincing Tobias or Kai, but what's new on this album, and what's really great, is that Ben sings like Ben too now (developping his own vocal style) ! The big difference in Dust to Dust are the choirs, they are over-present throughout the album, and they second Ben to the perfection ! Almost every song could be considered as metal hymns, and if you thought that Freedom Call or Rhapsody were the master of that category, you'll see Heavenly also deliver their share of hymns. Vocal melodies are so original and so inspired, that even now, key moments on the album are still sending shivers down my spine, especially those incredible crescendo in songs like the killer opener song : Evil or Victory (Creature Of The Night), which is to me the best song on this album and one of my all-time favorite tune. Overall, Dust to Dust is incredibly more heavy and symphonic than Sign Of the Winner. Everything in this album feels metal ! Instrumentaly you're also in for a ride, you'll get beautiful breaks and crazy ultra-melodic solos. I could have lived without the presence of an actual instrumental track. Don't get me wrong, this track is really good, but songs are so enjoyable , that an instrumental can only feel like a missing song (since it lacks vocals :)) ! Some moments will undoubtedly remind you Avantasia and Edguy (especially in Victory or Miracle), even some vocals will sound like Tobias. Like I said in my previous review, touring with Edguy could only be a positive thing for Heavenly, and it shows in the final result in Dust To Dust ! The album ends on the only ballad on Heavenly's new offering, Dust To Dust, and what a beautiful way to finish the album, right after the epic and unbelievable 8+ minute killer song Kingdom Come.

So, imagine the best of Helloween and Gamma Ray with the right dose of Edguy and Rhapsody, with that really original song-writing, a production to wake the dead, 10 songs ranging from 5 to 9 minutes for the long and ultra-epic song Miracle, amazing vocals & choirs, ultra-melodic solos and very heavy riffs ! Well, you're not dreaming, you're just the proud owner of what will surely be the best True Metal album of 2004 (we'll know once Edguy's Hellfire Club is out I guess). This concept about a vampire being turned, discovering what it is to be a creature of the night and then turning against its master is the perfect ground to let the album escalates through the 70+ minutes of heavenly music. One thing is for sure : Heavenly made a warp speed jump and with this album the bands enters my top 10 bands (positionning themselves VERY high in that shortlist).

On the art cover side, I like the concept of the illustration but just like for Sign Of The Winner, the overall image could have been realized much better, especially in terms of colors where the overly contrasted use of Red, Green and Black could have seen a much better end result with a better balanced color scheme. The band also seems to be struggling for a logo... 3 albums, and 3 logos, none of which really fits the band's heavenly features (actually the more it goes, the less the logo fits the band's music). I sure hope the current logo won't be the one that the band will keep, but that's of course just a little detail.

And I thought I wouldn't have lots to say... well, unless you didn't get it from my review or unless you jumped to end out of boredom, this is the album you can't miss if you're a true metal fan ! A pure, majestical demonstration of melodic perfection while remaining extremly heavy at the same time. Heavier and more melodic than Mandrake, as epic and majestic as both Avantasia's album, this is without any doubt the killer album I didn't even dreamt of ! I must have listen to this album 50 times already, and each and everytime I listen to it : I'm on my knees. Outstanding musicianship, inspired songwriting, incredible vocals, power and majesty like never before intermixed on a single CD ! If you must buy only one CD in January, let alone in 2004, let it be this one ! Happy new metal year, thanks to Heavenly.

Killing Songs :
Everything is near perfect, but my favorite songs are : Victory, Evil, Keepers Of The Earth, Miracle and Kingdom Come !
Chris quoted 98 / 100
Other albums by Heavenly that we have reviewed:
Heavenly - Carpe Diem reviewed by Chris and quoted 97 / 100
Heavenly - Virus reviewed by Chris and quoted 96 / 100
Heavenly - Sign Of The Winner reviewed by Chris and quoted 96 / 100
Heavenly - Coming From The Sky reviewed by Chris and quoted 91 / 100
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