Album: Off The Grid
Label: Scarlet Records
Genre: Power Metal
Country: United States
Release Date: March 10th, 2017
This thing makes its intentions known from the first, ripping out of the gates, all furious notes, riffs, drums, and soaring vocals with some keyboard flourishes. If you don’t know what Cellador stand for, what they’re about, you find out pretty quick. They’re back, after eleven years (with stop-gap EP Honor Forth coming out in 2011), and they’re intent on conquering the same hearts and minds they did back in 2006.
Eleven years is a long time to be gone from a scene, any scene, but if you had to disappear from one, the Power Metal scene would be the one to do it in. Those fans don’t forget anybody, and if you strike hard and fast, you’ll win back anyone left behind and make new fans in the process. But is Cellador able to pull such a feat off?
Time will tell, but they can’t be faulted for trying. Off The Grid is ten tracks of raging Power Metal, straight shots of high velocity rock from start to finish, no BS, no filler, just in your face metal. If you like that sort of thing, you’ll love this.
Opener “Sole Survivor” sets the pace. Shredder, composer, and lead vocalist Chris Peterson reminds their fans just what made Cellador’s first album, Enter Deception, such a winner. Solid riffs, lots of wild fills, and melodic vocals are all over the place here. The song is frantic and eager but not in an obnoxious way. Good start.
“Break Heresy” comes next and although it rages as well, there’s a bit more melody here and the song breathes some, with less crowding of space and hyperbolic Power Metal. Which isn’t to say it doesn’t rock, but it does take a slight step back.
From here the album races onward and upward, every track almost flowing together and songs at time becoming indistinguishable. Repeated listening fixes this problem, but on first go-through, this all sounds a bit samey. “Shadowfold” pummels throughout, and “Wake Up The Tyrant” brings plenty of heft, with a nice, almost Randy-Rhodes-Over-The-Mountain-like break about 2:20 in. “Off The Grid” slows things again (not really—it just interjects more melody and vocals; there is nothing slow about this song at all, it’s just not as heavy as some of the others) while “Swallow Your Pride” makes you think you’re going to get a mid-paced stomper before it absolutely melts your face at the 30 second mark (Enter Deception, indeed). “Shimmering Status” comes next and offers staccato drums, keyboard stabs, and plenty of shredding, par for course on this album.
The shocker of the record comes with a cover of the Cyndi Lauper song, “Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough,” simply called “Good Enough,” here. If you ever had a hankering for a Power Metal cover of the theme song from The Goonies movie, prepare to crap thine jeans with joy. A good song, jaunty and light, gives the album some release from the serious shredding (although this does shred, in its own way).
Back to business with “This Means War,” a song of pure Power Metal glory and might. And album closer “Running Riot” does just what its title suggests. This one is lean and mean and finishes the show with some epic ripping, singing, and melodic trimmings.
There’s nothing not to like about this record, especially if this kind of metal is your thing. Cellador make their comeback, and although it’s not exceptional, this is a re-establishment of their place in the world. This band came out of the gates in the early OO’s, a staunch defender of an American-style Power Metal, with plenty of Helloween and Queensryche influence to their sound (amongst many others). In 2009 they faced a big setback with several band members leaving, and over the intervening years, leader Peterson has pieced together a new line-up that rivals the original and he sure doesn’t mind showing them off.
The only criticisms that can really be levelled at this is that it doesn’t do anything new (but to be fair, it isn’t trying to) and the songs can run together after a while. Repeated listens rectify this to some extent, but really, unless you’re a fan of this subgenre of metal (and why would you listen to this if you weren’t?), it won’t matter. Also, the cover of the record isn’t the best, to say the least. It’s a bit…underwhelming and certainly won’t jump off the shelf.
This is a return to form for a band well-missed on the scene, a reminder of just how scorching Power Metal can be when it’s performed by the right hands. This is never silly or over the top in a satirical way (a danger with Power Metal) because the meat and bones of the songs provide plenty of heft and power. Peterson and crew know how to get it done and they get it done well. Here’s looking forward to future releases (just don’t wait a decade next time, guys!).
1. Sole Survivors
2. Break Heresy
4. Wake Up The Tyrant
5. Off The Grid
6. Swallow Your Pride
7. Shimmering Status
8. Good Enough
9. This Means War
10. Running Riot
Total Playing Time: 41:57