Cellador – Honor Forth
Just when you thought (some, I suppose, had hoped) that Cellador was going to lay down and die, the persevering foursome from the middle of nowhere pieced together an EP to indicate that they haven’t dropped the banner yet. I in fact missed the release of this EP completely last year, and it was just brought to my attention- for which I am quite grateful. The band’s 2006 debut Enter Deception was a bright spot on America’s relatively dull power metal slate, and despite some reservations, it was a refreshing interpretation of the kind of music that Dragonforce introduced to the scene. After the departure of lead singer Mike Gremio, my chief problem with the band’s debut, I’ve really been looking forward to see what the band is capable of next.
Well, Honor Forth is, as expected, very similar to the formula that was developed on Enter Deception. The replacement of Gremio is, well, really just guitarist Chris Petersen deciding to take them upon himself. While he doesn’t have the same range, I find him a more pleasant singer in general, and he has enough power to do justice to the band’s compositions, if not thoroughly excel in his own right. His Tenor II range doesn’t waver like Gremio, and backing vocals are quite proficient. So, with no major complaints regarding vocals this time around- how about the rest of the tunes?
Well, they’re great, well worth waiting for. With the change in vocals, the same technical tightness, and a good spread of variety amongst the five songs on the EP, I would judge that the band has certainly been biding its time effectively. The title track “Honor Forth” is a face-melting opener that demands nothing less than your full attention with its sweeping guitar strokes and hooky chorus. Even better, however, is the slightly slower but heavier and more dynamic “I’m Omega”, which is my personal pick of the litter. “Unchained” and “Conscious Defector” are both good songs that are strong and individual enough in their own right, but the closer “Faceless Dark” truly adds a twist to Honor Forth with its mid-paced, snarling advance that delivers the most somber and probably most accessible offering to be found here.
Despite lacking a ballad, the pacing, tempo, and textures create a consistently driving and interesting short collection of music. I feel that these songs work at least as well as the material on Enter Deception. However, despite the better stability of Petersen’s vocals, I do miss the sheer memorability of that album’s melody lines, as well as some of the higher vocal work. Cellador is lined up to release their second studio album in summer of 2012 (titled For All Or Nothing, last I heard), and I do not know if they intend to have a full time lead vocalist or not. With a singer the equal of the instrumentalists, this band could go a long ways. However, that doesn’t drag either Enter Deception nor this fine EP down. If you’re a fan of capable, catchy power metal at its fastest, Honor Forth is a definite must-have in your collection. Along with new material from Ascension, Cellador are helping re-shape the “extreme power metal” (where extreme translates to “really fast) subgenre to be more than just the silly music of Dragonforce.
Dan’s Rating: 3.75 out of 5