Enceladus – Journey To Enlightenment
Enceladus – Journey To Enlightenment (2014)
Reviewed by Daniel Millard
Enceladus popped up on a few radars last year with the release of its brief EP Time In A Dream, and the speed-crazed Texan power metal band has now gathered its strength for a full length release titled Journey To Enlightenment, due out digitally on August 19th.
Stylistically, Enceladus calls to mind equally hyperactive bands like Ascension, Dragonforce, Operadyse, Victorius, Pathfinder, and the like. Of all of these, I would qualify them as sounding the most like Victorius and Pathfinder, for guitar style and vocal approach, respectively. Soikkam of Enceladus switches up his singing frequently, switching between a clear, high, heroic tenor and a harsh inflection that reminds me of Pathfinder’s ex-vocalist Szymon Kostro (but less silly). Blended together throughout the album, this double edged approach, combined with a few well-placed layers and group vocals or shouts, help to enhance Journey To Enlightenment’s listenability and prevents tracks from running together, as such frenetic power metal can sometimes do. Soikkam’s vocals are a definite high point of the album.
But this isn’t just simple, self-derivative power metal a la Dragonforce. No indeed, for Enceladus pulls in a great deal of other influences. The seemingly methamphetamine-induced riffing of Geo Rossler is heavily influenced by classic neoclassical speed metal greats like Malmsteen, and many of the verse and chorus melodies remind me of Swedish greats such as Nocturnal Rites and Crystal Eyes. For all of its furious guitar work, Enceladus keeps its vocal melodies simple (in structure, if not in vocal range!) and sing along-oriented – a crucial element for listener engagement.
While the ceaseless bounding of guitar is bound to bring on some ear-numbing after prolonged listening (solos in one song are unfortunately much like another – see Dragonforce for further illustrations of this behavior), the verse riffing is often quite outstanding, and there are a number of excellent leads (“Time In A Dream”, from the band’s earlier EP, “Break Away”, and “Frigid Vigor” in particular) that stand out in excellent fashion. My primary reservations with this album are fairly minor ones – the repetitious nature of the rhythm and solo guitar, the clear superior memorability of some choruses over others, and the rather straightforward, unremarkable nature of the bass and programmed drums. This is unabashedly a guitar-driven album, and will certainly appeal considerably more to guitar players and fans of shred and the like.
While the trio of songs from Time In A Dream (namely “Ethereality”, “Time In A Dream”, and “Ancestral Venture”) are present here and among the best songs that the band has to offer, there are several excellent new tracks. My favorites included “Frigid Vigor”, the less spastic “Book Of Pure Evil” (a standout just by its intro and tone, if nothing else), and most pointedly, the fantastic “Seven Year Solstice”. The overall level of production, virtuosity, tightness of sound, and on-the-level songwriting make Journey To Enlightenment a standout debut release from a band that’s clearly bent on going places. This album is a necessity to review for fans of fast paced, melodic Euro-power. However, infectious power metal of this sort is becoming less and less unique to the European scene, and Enceladus is now to be counted amongst the vanguard of a young but powerful host delivering the style on this side of the Atlantic.
3.75 // 5