Heaven Rain – Second Sun
Bosnian melodic metalers, Heaven Rain, have been around since 2006 and have been pretty busy in that time, producing five CD singles, two EPs, and one LP, entitled Far and Forever, that came out in 2006. This second full-length release, Second Sun, was recorded late last year and just recently released.
This is the first band I’ve heard from Bosnia, and I must say that that must be a tough country to be a metal musician in, given what I know of its history and politics. The band was started by keyboardist Goran Bastinac, and their Facebook page lists the usual big Finnish names as their influences: Nightwish and Sonata Arctica, in addition to some non-Finnish acts like Kamelot and Ayreon.
Purporting to want to “create original music in the progressive metal genre” I’m not sure, after three or four spins, that Heaven Rain has met their goal. On my first listen, I couldn’t help but think I was listening to late 1980s-early 1990s glam rock (I think…). There was something about the music, possibly the prevalence in about half the album of 80s-ish pop-sounding synth arrangements, that distinctly sounded like the 80s to me. The other half of the time, Goran plunks out some nice piano work, but the overall feel I got on the first listen was that the album sounded dated. This, combined with the often androgynous-sounding vocalist, Miona Graorac, who at times reminded me of London Wilde from Wildestarr with her chesty lower register, gave me the distinct feeling that I should be searching for some Aquanet and fluffing my hair up 2 feet above my head while sporting some raccoon eye make-up (oh, those were the days…).
Not that the album is necessarily bad – after all, the glam/hair metal bands of my youth were my gateway to the harder stuff. The songs on Second Sun are catchy the way the glam stuff was catchy, though I kind of felt like I’d been there and done that already, so I didn’t find the music terribly compelling or original. I’m not entirely sure this is progressive metal, either; while there are some more complex song structures, they aren’t any more complex than anything Nightwish puts out and I guess I’m not on the Sonata Arctica version of the prog bandwagon to want to compare that band’s “prog” stuff to Heaven Rain’s music.
Strengths on the album include “Dreamless”, which has a catchy chorus and a rocky groove; “My Only One”, a nice mid-tempo piece that really reminds me of the 80s; and the ballad “Nowhere”, which features great piano work by Goran, though this is the song where I am most feeling the androgyny of Miona’s voice. But again, this ballad would be very much at home in the 1980s.
And don’t get me wrong: it’s not like Miona has a bad voice – she doesn’t; it’s just not my cup of tea. While it definitely has power and presence, the fact that I sometimes felt like a man was singing was slightly disconcerting for me.
I think Heaven Rain has good bones, and the music and album certainly isn’t unlistenable. It’s very competent. I didn’t mind my time listening to it, but I didn’t find it particularly moving or special, particularly since I lived through the era it recalls. Maybe the younger folk out there would appreciate it much more, especially those into “lighter” metal.
Allyson’s rating: 3.0 out of 5