Keldian – Outbound

December 2, 2013 in Reviews by Arno Callens

Keldian - Outbound

Keldian – Outbound (2013)

Reviewed by Arno Callens

And to think I didn’t even like Keldian at first. Well, that’s not entirely true – I loved “Lords Of Polaris” and thought “The Ghost Of Icarus” was alright, but the rest seemed like a bunch of dead space to me (pun not intended, but appreciated).

Of course, I was dead wrong.

You see, listening to a Keldian album is a lot like falling in love (bear with me here). There’s some things you like straight away – a pretty face, a good sense of dressing – and then you start to engage. You flirt, discover interesting characteristics, and suddenly this person is always on your mind. Then one day he or she says or does something and the spark explodes. You’re in love.

Mushy stuff, right? However, the simile is apt. I’ve gone through all these stages with every Keldian record and Outbound is no exception. As a contributor to the crowdfunding campaign that saw this album born (a campaign that should be lauded for its professional approach), I had access to two songs in advance. “Burn The Sky” I adored right away, its deliberately mid-paced rhythms creating an urgency that simple speed couldn’t portray. It’s Outbound‘s “Set Your Controls” (coincidentally a Star One song from an album called Space Metal), and follows nicely in the footsteps of “Crusader” from Heaven’s Gate, another song I was immediately fond of. The other pre-released track was “Morning Light Mountain”,  which built up a more modernized sound, while displaying the flipside of Keldian’s coin. I liked it for sure, but its subtle majesty needed to crawl under my skin. Which it did and continues to do.

Such is the case for the whole album. Fast hitters and slow burners alike, all wrapped up in a carefully polished production. The former include the brilliantly driven “Never Existed” (probably the most radio-friendly song Keldian ever penned), the skyrocketing “Kepler And A 100 000 Stars”, and the nerve-tickling “Run For Your Life”. Between these three tracks and “Burn The Sky” there’s enough to give every power metal fan a heart attack.

The latter category is trickier. “Earthblood” reverts melodic expectations for something more profound, adding a lovely acoustic bridge to lighten things up. Another song inspired by science fiction writer Peter F. Hamilton, “The Silfen Paths” drops you right in the middle of that glorious solitude that “Redshift” and “Plains Of Forever” introduced us to. This is what space must really be like, I think (and Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity does little to disprove this). “The Silfen Paths”, just like its predecessors “Plains Of Forever” and “Memento Mori”, also does the almost impossible trick of making long instrumental sections interesting to me.

Equally mesmerizing, but ironically even slower burning, is “F.T.L.” (“Faster Than Light”), which embraces all of Keldian’s traits all at once. From the loneliness of the intro we move to the splendor of the end, all packed with sumptuous refrains. It’s the perfect album closer, which leaves just two track’s names unchecked. “Scoundrel Days” is a fantastic cover, applying all of Keldian’s strengths to a tune A-Ha could have written for them. It gives me chills to think what Keldian could do with Ultravox. Finally, “A Place Above The Air” is probably still growing on me, as Keldian songs often stand out months after first having heard them.

Ultimately it comes down to this: falling in love is one thing, loving quite another. When you do love someone or something, the devil is in the details, and so it is with music. I’m certain Outbound still has more discoveries in store, and I’ll be eagerly searching for them. However, sometimes those things just happen to you.

4.5 // 5