Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Album Review: "Pandora" by Celestial Ruin

The underserved, but resilient, genre of symphonic metal has an unheralded champion in Celestial Ruin. After four years of touring in support of their debut album, which included a hiatus caused by vocalist Larissa Dawn’s health problems, they are soon to release an ambitious follow-up up EP titled “Pandora”.

Once again they have so expertly channeled the spirit and influence of genre legends such as Sweden’s Therion and Finland’s Nightwish, one would assume Celestial Ruin is of similar Nordic origin.  Yet, this epic sound of the snowy cold environs of Europe comes from the temperate city of Vancouver. Celestial Ruin could be the band to put Canada back on the metal map filling the void left by the departure of 3 Inches of Blood. 
Each of the five songs on the EP tells a complete ominous story through the powerful, clean, crisp and operatic vocals of Larissa Dawn.  Straddling the edges of hard rock and power metal, Dawn is backed by the performances of guitarist Eriz Crux, bassist Mike Dagenais and drummer Adam Todd, who sear through a relentless stream of bombastic riffs and arpeggio laden solos reminiscent of Helloween, Kamelot and Dragonforce. 

Celestial Ruin
Augmenting this, and creating a sense of majesty, is the classical keyboard work of Ruben Wijga.  Wijga manages to bring the force of an entire symphony orchestra into every song, and create a soundtrack for each musical story told by the band. 
Although the stories are different, with each centering on a different character, the themes are very similar.  Four of the five songs focus on entrapment.   There is one song about being trapped by the circumstances of life, one song about being trapped by the consequences of actions, one song about being trapped in a relationship and one song about being trapped in your own mind while your dreams crumble around you. I suggest this might be considered a concept album and could have been titled “Trapped”.  Still, the chosen title, “Pandora”, remains appropriate in the sense the protagonists’ feelings of entrapment open a Pandora’s box of despair and suicide.   

A fifth song, which fits outside this theme, is a high seas tale of legendary pirate Davy Jones mercilessly vanquishing his foes.
“Pandora” blends classical music with hard rock to create a sound which is powerful enough to enthrall metalheads and melodic enough to be equally enjoyed by more traditional rock fans.  

Release: May 20 2016  
Genre: Symphonic Metal, Power Metal, Progressive Rock
Label: Self Released

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