Initially formed in 2012, Greek female-fronted melodic death metal band Caelestia released their debut album 'Last Wish' under the name Me and Myself in 2013. After a few lineup changes they changed their name to Caelestia and are set to release their sophomore album 'Beneath Abyss' on February 16th via Inverse Records.
Unfortunately when using the words "female-fronted metal" to describe a band, the comparisons to bands like Epica, Nightwish and their thousands of derivatives are inevitable. It's easy to push such thoughts aside when listening to Caelestia however, as there's a lot less emphasis on the symphonic elements and operatic vocals that are usually the driving force behind such bands. Speaking of the symphonic elements, the production on 'Beneath Abyss' is one of the highlights of the album; it's sleek and clean, the symphonic elements seem to take a backseat to the enjoyable death metal style riffing and harsh male vocals, counterpointing Dimitra Vintsou's softer, not overly dramatic vocal style.
The album's artwork was designed by artist and musician Seth Siro Anton, best known for his work with Septicflesh, and I feel his influence carries over into the music as well. There are certain parts of this album that handle the symphonic and death metal passages with a similar grandiosity as their fellow Greeks and this went a long way to endearing this album to me as, like any sane person with a penchant for symphonic death metal, I love Septicflesh.
Album opener 'Malleus Maleficarum' starts with some ethereal vocals that continue throughout the track adding atmosphere to a song replete with catchy guitar riffs and some excellent drumming. Third track in 'The Grand Sublimation' is a creepy little instrumental track, serving as the perfect introduction to 'Blessing of Tragedy', a fast paced thrashy track featuring Bjorn "Speed" Strid of Soilwork fame. This pace is continued onto the title track 'Beneath Abyss' featuring Andrew Geo of AlterSelf. The final track, 'The Rise of the Hidden Nature' ends with a Dream Theatre worthy piano outro, closing the album nicely.
Overall, if female-fronted symphonic metal is your thing then there's no reason why you wouldn't enjoy this album. If this style of music isn't something you'd typically listen to I'd recommend checking this out anyway as it's far from another run-of-the-mill Epica clone and is just a genuinely enjoyable album from a band with a promising future ahead of them.