Carpe Diem
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I'm using this picture instead of the album cover because it's marginally less embarrassing to have on the page.
Usually, when I write reviews of albums, it's about six months after they've come out because it takes that long for favourites to fall into place and stick in my mind for me - opinions of songs usually change dramatically from the first listen as things grow on you or you get fed up of them more quickly than you'd think. But this one is... instantly bizarre. I mentioned before that Heavenly could never decide how to present themselves because they had a completely different logo on each album. Now that they've broken that four-album-long streak by finally deciding on one using inverted H/Ys and the font from Knightmare, they've settled for sticking two girls with their mouths open on the cover and changing their musical direction entirely instead.

I first listened to this all the way through when doing some repetitive work on a database, and nearly every song on this album had at least one moment where felt compelled to stop, turn to the desktop playing it, and go "What?". After a history of thoughtful and... well, sometimes meaningless song subjects, the title track is a blatant pop-lyriced ode to shagging with a chorus identical to Ministry of Saints by Edguy, and I've never been more pleased about Ben Sotto's ability to completely mangle English because not being able to hear what the words are meant to be improves the song immensely. I first thought it started with hellish screams like some of the Dust to Dust tracks. On subsequent listens... I realized that wasn't what he was going for at all. Moving swiftly on.

Lost in Your Eyes is one of the least mad songs on this album, making it a good choice for the preview track so that the surprise is saved for when you buy the full album, but it does showcase Ben's latest lyrical tactic. On hearing the preview, I put together a set of lyrics based on what I heard sung, and got all of them wrong. This is mostly because now, as well as words never having the right emphasis or vowels, it's quite common for them not to have all their syllables at all - some words just start halfway through or give up after one or two notes to make them fit into the song, the same way you might cut bits off a double decker bus to fit it under a coffee table. Some people might find this... distracting, but by this point I would honestly be disappointed if I bought a Heavenly album and it was in even vaguely coherent English.

Anyway, with the two openers done, the band leave and the rest of the album is written by Queen. Heavenly always have an unusually large gap between album releases, and apparently the three years since Virus were spent resurrecting Freddie Mercury. Farewell and A Better Me are the two songs where the influence is most obvious, but it's there all the way through. Farewell is also notable for a great moment just before the minute mark where it sounds like he knows he's in danger of actually pronouncing a word correctly and so inserts a pause for no reason at all. I thought at first that A Better Me sounded like something from a Disney musical, until the solo came up and I had to double check that Brian May wasn't listed in the album credits. A bit further on, Ode to Joy is Ode to Joy. Nobody should be able to get away with this, but they manage it through sheer ostentatiousness.

I think you can see the sort of mood we're dealing with now - I always thought of Heavenly as sort of the epitome of what people hate about the over-the-topness of power metal, so for them of all people to suddenly turn around and produce something that sounds quite different is completely unprecedented. I loved Dust to Dust where every song was about ten minutes long and just about set your hair on fire on the way, and I still think I consider it their highest point, but I like this too despite them having cut back the bombast to the point where the album is a disappointing 45 minutes long - the mood is still present in the form of songs like Ashen Paradise (which in a move very opposite from normal is Dethrone Tyranny by Gamma Ray), and the general Heavenly orchestration is unmistakable.

Actually, this is probably going to sound worse than I intend, but I think that this might be Heavenly's Chameleon. When I skimmed the reviews on Metal Archives I saw a lot of clumsily-worded disappointment that a lot of this album isn't really what you expect from Heavenly and even goes outside power metal in the usual sense. But unlike Helloween's less than chameleonic attempt to become The Beatles, and as confused as I was when I first listened to it... I think that this works.