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Review: Heliosaga - Towers in the Distance
Towers in the Distance

Label: Independent
Year released: 2014
Duration: 48:29
Tracks: 10
Genre: Symphonic Metal

Rating: 3.75/5

Review online: September 30, 2014
Reviewed by: MetalMike
Readers Rating
Towers in the Distance

Rated 3.33/5 (66.67%) (3 Votes)

Let me be honest right up front and say I was shocked to learn Heliosaga, a female-fronted Symphonic Metal band, was from the United States. I thought only Europeans cared about making this kind of music or could, frankly, do it this well. Color me pleasantly surprised.

Heliosaga call the state of Minnesota home and while that isn't exactly the center of the musical universe, it has a lot of residents with Scandinavian heritage, so maybe that explains some of their sound : ) Seriously, female-fronted Symphonic/Gothic Metal is fast becoming as crowded a field as one-man Black Metal, so the question is this; what does Heliosaga do that you can't hear from numerous other bands? First, and foremost, vocalist Chelsea Knaack has an operatic range but the kind of smooth delivery that made the union between the Power Metal of Nightwish and the operatic vocals of original lead singer Tarja Turunen so special. A lot of bands with operatic singers struggle because their vocalists sound like they are singing "The Queen of the Night" aria from Mozart's The Magic Flute over a Sonata Arctica song. That's what separated Turunen, and now Knaack, from the pack; sounding more like a Heavy Metal singer but one with an operatic range. The rest of the band is quite talented (would we accept anything less?) and while the songwriting isn't at a Once or Ocean Born level, they do have some rather catchy numbers like "Lost," "To Heal All Wounds" and "Hunter's Moon." Musically, Heliosaga stick close to the conventions of their chosen genre and will need to branch out a bit, along with improving their songwriting, to truly make some waves.

Towers in the Distance is Heliosaga's debut and that, combined with the fact this band is from the absolute hinterlands of female-fronted Symphonic Metal, makes it all the more impressive for how good it is. I wouldn't call it a world-beater but these musicians have the bones of something good and the trick will be fleshing it out. There's nothing on Towers in the Distance to make me think they won't do just that.

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