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Metal-CD-Review SPECIAL: The Discography & History Of KELDIAN (Norway, 2005-2018)

Willkommen ! An dieser Stelle sollen noch einmal alle bisherigen CD-Reviews zu den Veröffentlichungen der Power Metal-Band KELDIAN (die nicht von ungefähr auf Platz 1 der Power Metal-Bestenliste rangiert, zumindest momentan) zusammengefasst werden – und zwar erstmals komplett auf englisch. Dies soll unter anderem auch der Band selbst die Möglichkeit geben, sich bei Bedarf oder Interesse noch einmal näher mit den Texten auseinandersetzen zu können. Hierzu sei lediglich angemerkt, dass nicht unbedingt von einer perfekten Übersetzung auszugehen ist – der Blog hier ist noch immer ein Hobby-Projekt, nicht mehr und nicht weniger. Wenn Fehler gefunden werden, soll dies aber gerne mitgeteilt werden.


Welcome ! For the first time in english, this post is designated to summarize all the reviews on the official releases of the power metal band KELDIAN (which stands at the top of the overall best of power metal bands-list for a reason, at least for the moment). Among others, this should allow the band itself to take a closer look into the texts and the author’s opinion. Speaking of which, it should be noted that the text does not necessarily come as perfect translation. The blog here still is a hobby project, nothing more and nothing less. However, if errors are found, they can gladly be communicated via the comment section.

1. HEAVEN’S GATE (2007)

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Title: Heaven’s Gate
Artist: Keldian (more)
Release: 27. Februar 2007
Country: Norwegen
Genre: Power Metal
Label: Perris Records

Lineup:

Arild Aardalen – Keyboards, Vocals (additional)
Christer Andresen – Vocals, Guitars, Bass

Tracklist:

1. Crusader (03:33)
2. Heart of the Sun (03:54)
3. Requiem for the Light (03:54)
4. Heaven’s Gate (04:20)
5. Redshift (05:57)
6. Salvation (Release Me) (04:53)
7. Sundancer (04:31)
8. Prophecy (04:17)
9. Beyond the Stars (03:39)
10. Plains of Forever (08:41)

Open up the gates to a new dimension.

HEAVEN’S GATE is the first official studio album of KELDIAN – a thoroughly remarkable musical project from Norway, which had quite a few predecessors. From the ALIEN LOVE GARDENERS to PROTOS NEMESIS to KELD – it certainly took some well used creative time until both Arild Aardalen (Keyboards, Backing Vocals) and Christer Andresen (Bass, Guitars, Vocals) decided to name themselves KELDIAN and finally took off towards a new musical dimension. In 2006 they eventually released HEAVEN’S GATE via Perris Records (respectively Stay Gold in Japan) as a accumulation of their gathered impressions and experiences, putting all their abilities to the test.

For that matter, KELDIAN are surely none of the power metal acts that you could call typical or generic. To the contrary, HEAVEN’S GATE is quite a good example for the accomplished effect of a band with a very unique musical identity. In other words: almost no band can be compared to KELDIAN, which is also due to the fact that their musical influences are comparatively diversified. With musical elements ranging from eighties pop and hard rock, more electronic genres and a good dose of a timeless melodic metal, KELDIAN manage to accumulate all their ingredients to a totally new, coherent whole. So to speak, it may be that some moments remind you of the greatness of bands like A-HA or ALPHAVILLE – but only until the fresh metal elements kick in and surprise you with a musical setting that has never been there before.

As a matter of fact, it especially is this new and fresh impression that makes HEAVEN’S GATE this enjoyable and by all means spectacular – even if a vast majority of the titles are not arranged with a lot of pompous elements. True power not only but also lies in silence, at least that seems to be one of KELDIAN’s credos – whereas even the calmer tracks never get boring. More likely, the silent moments also carry something very special in themselves, something that is almost beyond words. Maybe a closer look at the puristic, but certainly majestic artwork can actually justify this phenomenon, which makes KELDIAN one of the true pioneers of a genre that technically hasn’t been invented yet: a spherical power metal. The lyrical contents, which often treat cosmic themes and sensitize the listeners towards potentially higher proceedings, also carry that impression.

An impression that certainly has to be labeled positive within the overall power metal genre. Still, KELDIAN are delivering a lot of musical variety: from the straight CRUSADER to the anthemic REQUIEM FOR THE LIGHT to a totally out-of-this-world REDSHIFT – KELDIAN have a lot to offer to everyone who finds himself at least a bit fond of the genre. It is kind of striking that none of the titles seems to be overcharged with musical elements coming from the keyboards, background singing or the nicely emulated classical instruments – since KELDIAN stay focused on what they do and love. It is almost insane that they somehow managed to put together titles like the great SUNDANCER as one of the most significant numbers on the album – perfectly working as a pounding uptempo highlight with great riffing as well as a rather experimental musical piece with a sublime spherical background. Friends of a more progressive approach will however be satisfied with titles like PLAINS OF FOREVER, that also gets its due on the sci-fi aspects. In other words: with an album like HEAVEN’S GATE, it is almost impossible to become bored.

Keeping this in mind, HEAVEN’S GATE is certainly one of the debut metal albums that will leave a big impression – referring to almost every aspect. Be it the unique talent and performance of the lead singer, the lyrical contents or the general craftsmanship that is accompanying every title – KELDIAN simply manage to deliver, even in the rather calm and emotional moments whereas other bands just insert a plain ballad. KELDIAN should be rewarded for their uniqueness alone – but of course, if all the other aspects are working out well it is even better. Well, the production quality might not be perfect – but we are talking about an (already great) debut album here. What may be worse is the fact that the album feels rather short, spinning in at a total of 47 minutes – 47 minutes that make you want much more of this great material. HEAVEN’S GATE is an absolute must for any fan of the genre, and of course every music-lover in general.

Recommended titles: all


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„An absolute piece of jewelry and very close to a musical revelation.“

2. Journey Of Souls (2008)

Title: Journey Of Souls
Artist: Keldian (more)
Release: 20. Mai 2008
Country: Norwegen
Genre: Power Metal
Label: Perris Records

Lineup:

Arild Aardalen – Keyboards, Vocals (additional)
Christer Andresen – Vocals, Guitars, Bass

Tracklist:

1. The Last Frontier (03:25)
2. Lords of Polaris (05:12)
3. Reaper (03:34)
4. The Ghost of Icarus (04:11)
5. Memento Mori (09:18)
6. Vinland (05:30)
7. The Devil in Me (04:28)
8. Hyperion (04:52)
9. God of War (04:56)
10. Starchildren (04:30)
11. Dreamcatcher (03:40)

Let us just change our point of view.

Hailing from the depths of Norway, KELDIAN are delivering once again – this time with their second album JOURNEY OF SOULS. One of the great things is that KELDIAN play anything but a power metal that has been heard before – and that they instantly managed to raise far beyond any other band, at least referring to their uniqueness. The great opener THE LAST FRONTIER already is a perfect example of what is to be expected here: a great dose of melodic elements, coherent choral passages and an atmosphere that is almost beyond words. Compared to its already great predecessor, JOURNEY OF SOULS immediately seems to advance from the state of being an already nice but still rough diamond to a timelessly sparkling one – which of course includes the great metal elements and the soothing voice of lead singer Christer Andresen.

Speaking of great musical craftsmanship and complexity, LORDS OF POLARIS is one of the rather surprising titles here – coming in as an out-of-this-world anthem with very convincing background vocals and an overall atmosphere one simply can not escape. The mix of rather calm and mysterious tunes with a full power metal broadside is one of the trademarks that KELDIAN certainly perfected here. REAPER then comes in the vein of a solid midtempo pounder, bringing in another punchy refrain with lots of nicely integrated cosmic metal elements.

The next highlight is indeed not a long time coming: the mighty GHOST OF ICARUS is just a congenial piece of music. Starting with a very atmospheric intro in form of an interstellar radiocommunication, the track soon casts its feathers and advances to a truly motivating uptempo crusher. No ordinary one, of course – KELDIAN are just too inventive for that, as they are delivering their lyrics with a certain emphasis. The following MEMENTO MORI then surprises with a comparably unhasty pace, just to become one of the most outstanding titles of the entire album – being anything but an ordinary ballad. There is still a lot going on in these 9 minutes, making every single moment enjoyable – especially when it comes to a very moody instrumental part that is exploding in another epic solo towards minute 7, which leads to another pure adrenaline rush.

But VINLAND also is very strong, delivering quite a lot of positive energy that just makes you want to hear more and more – which also goes for the well-staged instrumental part and the ominous voice that seems to be summoning up some mighty spirits, just before another great instrumental and solo part arrives. VINLAND is just another obligatory title that shouldn’t be missed, hailing with way more virtuosity and musical diversity than you could ask for. With THE DEVIL IN ME and HYPERION KELDIAN also serve a rather nominalistic power metal style – a style which showcases that they can impress even when they are not doing too much, even though these two titles cannot really match up with the great and outstanding start of the album. That however is just another drop in the ocean, since GOD OF WAR strikes back with a sappy dose of just heavenly power metal – also bringing in a comparably harsh refrain for the first time. The instrumental parts however take out some pace, compensating the high energy level – and the great finale with the AYREON-like voice-over fits in perfectly.

Now only STARCHILDREN and DREAMCATCHER are left, both delivering very strong refrains and an overall impression of a timelessly good album. Ultimately, and for a power metal band, KELDIAN are doing a lot of things – if not all – right, satisfying all requirements a power metal listener could imagine. Be it the overall bass lines, the guitar work, the drumming, the keyboards, the lead singing, the additional choral elements, the lyrical concept or the impressive work coming from the mixing and production departments – KELDIAN seem to not only sing about drifting in space. They are, qualitatively standing above almost any other power metal combo of these days. So to speak, it doesn’t really matter if you are a friend of an extremely good power metal in the European style, an epic cosmic metal in the vein of LUCA TURILLI, a richly decorated melodic metal with loads of influences from the eighties, or even just a basic listener with a wide choice. Maybe KELDIAN are the new messengers for power metal indeed – showing all disbelievers that the genre is not dead at all. It’s now or never…

Recommended titles: all


„It’s certainly not common, but: with a band like KELDIAN, you do not need more than 2 studio albums to enter the circle of the best power metal acts of all time.“

3. Outbound (2013)

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Title: Outbound
Artist: Keldian (mehr)
Release: 31. October 2013
Country: Norway
Genre: Symphonic Power Metal
Label: Galactic Butterfly Music

Lineup:

Christer Andresen – Bass, guitars, vocals (lead)
Arild Aardalen – Keyboards, vocals (additional)

Tracklist:

1. Burn the Sky (04:21)
2. Earthblood (05:04)
3. Never Existed (04:12)
4. Morning Light Mountain (07:06)
5. Kepler and 100 000 Stars (05:05)
6. The Silfen Paths (11:56)
7. Run For Your Life (03:22)
8. A Place Above the Air (04:16)
9. F.T.L. (06:45)

The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent.

Oh, this could be quite a happy day. After all, KELDIAN are once again hailing from Norway, delivering their third official studio album OUTBOUND. The actual success story of the band however began many years before the even released their debut album. After the two founding members Christer Andresen and Arild Aardalen started experimenting within several small musical projects, they started spreading their music by releasing a first demo in 2003 (BURDEN OF DREAMS). After that another demo called SALVATION FOR THE GUILTY was released – back then under the seemingly short band name KELD. It is not hard to see that this was the base for the band we now know as KELDIAN, which has officially been active since 2006. As a striking result, we got the extremely good debut album HEAVEN’S GATE (2007) and an even better successor called JOURNEY OF SOULS (2008) – two albums that certainly found their fanbase. Not only due to the fact that it seems kind of hard – if not impossible – to peg KELDIAN’s music as to only one single direction. Of course, the overall term Power Metal still seems very suitable here – but there are many other influences that lead to the uniqueness of KELDIAN, making the act almost incomparable to others.

Then, after the year 2008 KELDIAN got a little silent. Of course, while their fanbase was still growing – gathering a lot of people from growing web platforms like Facebook. After quite a while then followed a major challenge: KELDIAN announced that they are back, starting a crowdfunding project for a possible new album called OUTBOUND. Today it is no longer a secret that the campaign has been a full success – and that the new album is available as of today (the 31th of October). One important question is however remaining: was it really worthwhile, or: are KELDIAN still sounding as innovative, fresh and atmospheric as they did on their first two albums ? For that matter, it should be a fact that the bar was set kind of high – especially when it comes to the fans that followed the band on from their earlier years.

Apparently, the two KELDIAN members knew this too – so they obviously worked very hard for the album we now know as OUTBOUND, and reached deep into their musical bag of tricks. Although this does not really go for the overall album artwork – which is indeed kind of simplistic this time – the opener BURN THE SKY does exactly what is promised here. With its uniquely and certainly intoxicating effect, it advances in a very pleasurable way – whether you have heard the first two KELDIAN albums or not. Yet, especially connoisseurs will soon realize that BURN THE SKY sounds as spherical, timeless, and majestic as almost all tracks from the great HEAVEN’S GATE – and as fast-paced, punchy and perfectly mixed as the tracks published on its successor JOURNEY OF SOULS. Be it the distinctive voice of Christer Andresen, the top-class (and comparatively universal) lyrics and the space-related sound elements with lots of haunting riffs and metal elements – the listener will soon be aware of the fact that the sound of KELDIAN hasn’t aged at all.

In other words, and to summon it up: the long waiting time has certainly been worthwhile. OUTBOUND has become a very diverse and varied album, that should invite any fan of the genre to extensive listening (and maybe even dreaming) sessions. Even if the overall speed has been reduced in some of the tracks, the interplay of more aggressive elements and the soothing harmonious vocals, accompanied by many other atmosphere boosts are still there – showcasing that KELDIAN are still representing a very special musical trademark. The mood can also vary greatly, even within a single track – well-rehearsed samples, longer instrumental passages or solo parts contribute to an enormously rich impression here. A good example of this peculiarity of KELDIAN may be KEPLER AND THE 100 000 STARS – basically one could have made three stand-alone numbers from the source material. A calm ballad (as in the verses), a catchy uptempo hymn (as in the chorus) – and a powerfully rocking metal pounder as in the more complex instrumental passages. Criticism at a comparatively high level however is that the reverb effects sometimes seem a bit too intrusive – and that some of the choruses could have been a bit more subdued. Such as the one of NEVER EXISTED, which sounds a bit overloaded here and there.

Still, they couldn’t have composed a better outro than the great F.T.L. – a tracks that serves another big portion of the elements that lead to KELDIAN’s greatness in the first place. The riffing is simply ingenious, as well as the offered variety delivered by the introduction and the narrative part. No doubt, this is a hymn by the book – and also one that leads to a lot of goose bumps. Overall OUTBOUND is a solid produced, varied, unmistakable; typical KELDIAN album. An album that anyone – or at least any fan of the genre – should; no: have to possess.

Recommended titles: BURN THE SKY, KEPLER AND THE 100000 STARS, F.T.L.


„Another musical milestone delivered by KELDIAN.“

4. Darkness and Light (2017)

Title: Darkness And Light
Artist: Keldian (more)
Release: 27. October 2017
Country: Norway
Genre: Power Metal
Label: Perris Records

Lineup:

Christer Andresen – Bass, Guitars, Vocals (lead)
Arild Aardalen – Keyboards, Vocals (additional)
Steingrim – Drums
Vemund Osland – Guitars (additional) (tracks 4, 7)
Helene Hande Midje – Vocals (backing) (tracks 2, 3, 5, 7, 8)

Tracklist:

1. Nightfall (04:21)
2. Blood Red Dawn (05:11)
3. The Haunting (04:27)
4. Life and Death Under Strange New Suns (05:28)
5. I’m the Last of Us (12:41)
6. Change the World (07:20)
7. Broadside! (05:19)
8. Crown of Starlight (07:27)

Stars can’t shine without darkness.

It may have been known within certain circles, but in general it’s rather surprising: the Norwegian power metal heads from KELDIAN are back, presenting their fourth official studio album DARKNESS AND LIGHT. Therefore the Norwegians did not need so much time at all, looking at the predeccessor OUTBOUND which was released about 4 years ago. Considering how much work and passion Christer Andresen and Arild Aardalen put into their beloved musical project, it should’nt be a big surprise if DARKNESS AND LIGHT would be as good as their first three albums. After all, there certainly aren’t many other bands that can present such a convincing discography, even without the help of big labels and worldwide promotion.

A discography that doesn’t convince in terms of the genreal musical craftmanship and the quality of the sound only – but also coming with lots of unique selling points which can mainly be found in the generously treated sci-fi topics. This approach also serves as one of the biggest reasons for the cult status of the band. To be honest: there simple are no others bands with a similar content and direction – at least not to such an extend, with a similar credibility or the persuasive power offered by KELDIAN. Not letting the cutting-tight atmosphere aside – an atmosphere that is perceptible on every single KELDIAN album. Now, there is only one important qustion left: how can DARKNESS AND LIGHT pass as the fourth official album with correspondingly high-profile predecessors – and how does it integrate in a generally strong power metal year 2017 ?

One can soon tell that the overall impression is kind of diversified this time – or, one could even say:  for the first time. While a predecessor like OUTBOUND did not need long to fully catch and convince the listener, DARKNESS AND LIGHT has a rather slow start – which also goes for the more basic facts that are accompanying the album. Just like the overall runtime of about 52 minutes, which is kind of short – or the rather generic cover artwork, that seems to come from a simple stock footage archive. This does not really refelct the overall greatness of a band like KELDIAN –  which maybe also goes for the lyric video they released some time before the album came out. Indeed, BLOOD RED DAWN just could not totally convince with its compperatively bland reptiloid story – and when it comes to rather uninspired moments, tracks like the rather longish THE HAUNTING have their problems too. Actually, one should assume a small to medium-sized disappointment here – but fortunately KELDIAN have some more uop their sleeves.

In other words: DARKNESS AND LIGHT manages to evolve, but only after quite some time. While tracks like NIGHTFALL, BROADSIDE and CROWN OF STARLIGHT are certainly able to catch you sooner or later, LIFE AND DEATH UNDER STRANGE NEW SUNS turns out to be the true highlight here – becoming a thrilling and musically complex work after some spins. After all, it still can be found here: the typical KELDIAN trademarks and feelings emerging from the musical compositions. Feelings that clearly go hand in hand with the idea of discovering new worlds – whether in a musical or actual sense.

For now, KELDIAN should only pay attention to the rather extensive presence of the keyboard and sections that tend to be a bit lengthy – such as in the ballad-like I’M THE LAST OF US, that delivers more tenacity than necessary. At least the overall hope for a certain musical change, maybe even in the vein of the great MEMENTO MORI, remains. CHANGE THE WORLD however tends to lean towards the opposite direction,sounding close to a musical overload – the refrains seems to be a bit too much here, and the female guest vocals could have been better. It’s quite a fun fact that the refrain somehow reminds you of CARPARK NORTH’s HUMAN, a track that isn’t metal at all. This however should be a total coincidence.

After all DARKNESS AND LIGHT has therefore not quite become the next quantum leap referring to the career of KELDIAN. Still, we are talking about a great power metal work here. The tracks are still strong enough to deliver a fresh impression. It will be exciting to see the future plans of the Norwegians, since the musical chapter of KELDIAN is certainly not closed yet. And that’s a good thing.

Recommended titles: NIGHTFALL, LIFE AND DEATH UNDER STRANGE NEW SUNS, BROADSIDE, CROWN OF STARLIGHT


„The predecessors were a tiny bit stronger, without a doubt – but DARKNESS AND LIGHT also convinces as a super-solid, typical KELDIAN album with that certain special feeling.“

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