Winners of the "Be Your Own Label" contest held by Noise Records, France's Heavenly are a progressive/speed metal outfit in the vein of late 80's Helloween. Coming from the Sky is the record that resulted from the band's first recording session and was met with a rather cold reception from the press. While the album would fair better with the public than professional critics, how does this debut stack up in today's world? A lot better than one would think.
As one would expect the music on Coming from the Sky drenched in all the typical trappings of Euro power metal style and offers no apologies for it. Lead vocals soar and choruses are backed up with enough force that one can literally imagine that a small, hardened platoon was hired to sing them. Solos are long and lengthy as are the songs themselves, tackling subjects like battles and perseverance that have become the calling card of the genre. It's not as drawl as this explanation is making it out to be, but the experience is derivative when it's at its worst and at its best. Things start off with the opening intro. While having an opening intro is a cliche in itself for a power metal album, no one will doubt this is a power metal album upon hearing this. Tongue-in-cheek as it is, the funny part is how unnecessary it is once "Carry Your Heart" comes across ones speakers. Following up this ode to love is the strong and stout "Riding Through Hell" that conjures up the images of kings, crowns and kingdoms.
Things quickly take a turn for the worse with "Time Machine." Of all the tracks on the album, it's painfully obvious this wayward creation received the most attention with its trio of vocalists (Ben Sotto, Kai Hansen and Piet Sielck) yet fails to yields anything of value. The performances fit the song like a glove since it sounds like a low-end Gamma Ray number, but in reality, it's the kind of thing people use to exemplify how power metal beats the same old drum. Disruptive as "Time Machine" really is, it does little to derail the seductive "Number One" or a ferocious number like "Our Only Chance" that can round a corner on a moment's notice. The album revisits its opening notes with the short and sweet "Fairytale" before returning to the fray with the "My Turn Will Come" which is unfortunately the last moment of magic as "Until I Die" and "Million Ways" finish the album off in rather weak fashion.
While I'm sure some will obviously question the value of a release that bears no real evolution over the nearly twenty year-old material it takes influence from, there are times things are enjoyable because they feel so familiar. This describes Coming from the Sky to a tee. It's far from inspiring (well, "Carry Your Heart" has been known to jazz me up something fierce) and can be rather flat at points, but this is a case where I prefer to be an optimist despite the obvious drawbacks. I'd recommend others to do the same.