Heavenly - Virus
XIII bis
Bombastic and Majestic Melodic Metal
9 songs (50'20)
Release year: 2006
Heavenly, XIII bis
Reviewed by Chris
Album of the year

Heavenly are back with their fourth album to date. I for one was very curious to ear this next installment from one of the best French power metal band out there. Their previous effort was a bit of direction change, to a more dark but yet very interesting sound.

After the first listen its clear that Heavenly reverted to an old sound, the one from Sign Of The Winner, and while its not a bad thing, it was a little surprise compared to the last killer album Ashes To Ashes, which was definitely a more darker tone for the band, but I thought it was a welcome change. Don't get me wrong, I love this new album about just the same even if the songs are more into the "light" side of the force as opposed to the predecessor album. That detail aside the first thing that jumps out right away is the crystal clear production, powerful, perfectly balanced, the sound of this album is simply awesome, its the production that was missing on Sign Of The Winner to make it sound as bombastic as Virus (sound wise that is).

The album starts with a killer song : The Dark Memories, a song you'd think could have belonged to Sign Of The Winner album, powerful strong riffs, melodic vocal lines and chorus, and majestic songwriting. The Gammaray feel of this song is very present, even Ben's vocals that are on par with Kai's, to such a point that in some part of this album it actually feels like Kai is singing :). Speaking of vocals, they are stellar throughout the full course of this album. While Ben is clearly inspired by Kai Hansen and maybe Timo Kotipelto as well, he manages to deliver an incredible performance here, integrating elements from his favorite singers as well as developing his personal style altogether. The guitar work is also to be commended, as it adds power and majesty and to each and every one of the songs. The keyboards are also merging incredibly well into this melodic soundscape that Heavenly is. The second song on the album is Spill Blood On Fire, and one of my personal favorite, an anthem with varied vocals on Ben's part, a strong melodic feel, explosions well positioned to add some more "power" to the overall song, and a killer chorus. The japanese version of Virus contains a version of this song that Ben performs in Japanese. The next song Virus, starts strongly with pumping drums, and some interesting choirs. Again the verses remind me of the best Gammaray songs, while Ben's vocals on this song are very close to Kai's. The bridge is also reminiscent to Gammaray's, only the majestic chorus sounds quite different. I noticed that while it is clear that Heavenly main source of inspiration are band like Gammaray, old-school Helloween and Stratovarius, they manage to deliver a sound that is more refined with bombastic choruses and bridges, that gives the fan of ultra melodic songs like me the ultimate listening experience. Heavenly is rarely, if not never boring. The songs, wherever they last 4 or 6 minutes (they tend to be 5+ minutes in general), are always interesting, and they gain in power as the song progress. Always pushing the envelope toward a more bombastic experience. The forth song The Power And The Fury is named perfectly, it starts a bit a la Stratovarius, but then follows a more aggressive path as the riffing and strong drumming give that song a real Power and Fury vibe. While it can sometimes feel they borrow ideas from other bands, the final result of their songwriting are songs with their own powerful sound and soul. Sure it can (and will) remind you of the previously mentioned band at times, but as always with Heavenly, the resulting sound will be unique, a sound that can be resumed into Bombastic and Majestic Melodic Metal. I can go on and on about each and every song but that would be spoiling you the pleasure. Let's just say that this album is a pure wonder of powerful, melodic and some anthem like majestic metal songs. The more I listen to it, the more I like this album. And while I bombarded my brain with this a lot of this Virus album lately, I must say that it did not bore me, the only song that is sub-par to the rest of the album is The Prince Of The World, which I find too be maybe a little too much. There is a cover of When The Rain Begins To Fall, an 80's total hit, which is simply awesome in its Heavenly "metalized" version. Like its original version : its also performed as a duet.

The artwork is also very good, very different from the previous albums (yet more detailed), and funny fact Heavenly manages to have again a new logo. For the little story, this band changed logo with each release :) so far, but this one is by far the nicest to date and I believe the band finally found what they were looking for. Time will tell...

I suggest you visit the band's brand new website at www.heavenly.com so you can listen to some clips of this album, and also see a video of Spill Blood on Fire.

There is no doubt that Heavenly managed to deliver yet another bombastic album. The day this band will deliver a bad album seems far away (or simply non-existent). And hopefully it will never happen. If you like melodic, bombastic metal in the vein of Gammaray, Helloween & Stratovarius, then you simply CAN'T miss this album. You'll recognize elements from these bands, but you'll be astonished by the power and majesty that Virus has to offer. A pure rollercoaster ride of melodic metal, with strong riffs, ultra melodic guitar work and bombastic choruses all accompanied by perfect integration of keyboards that gives the song a depth you simply can't find in other bands. And if you're a chorus lover, you'll be on the edge of your seat for the entire "ride" that Virus is. One of the best album in the melodic metal category this year, no doubts here. The album will be available on November 13th in Europe, so brace yourself for this wave of melody this atomic bomb will deliver ! Two thumbs up to Heavenly !

Killing Songs :
All but The Prince Of The World
Chris quoted 96 / 100
Mike quoted 94 / 100
Jason quoted 94 / 100
Other albums by Heavenly that we have reviewed:
Heavenly - Carpe Diem reviewed by Chris and quoted 97 / 100
Heavenly - Dust To Dust reviewed by Chris and quoted 98 / 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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