When I think of instrumental rock, I think of Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Buckethead, Liquid Tension Experiment and Paul Gilbert. These are just a few names. In my opinion they have certain things in common: shredding, more or less fusion orientated and are technically highly skilled.
When I think of Finland, I think of a land with a thousand lakes, coniferous forest and snow.
Celestial Voyager is a Finnish-, instrumental rock band from the Helsinki area. Interesting is the fact that this band was able to combine both talents described above. To be honest Celestial Voyager brings us more than the instrumental standards. The band was founded in 2015. In 2016 this debut album was released. That's a rather dynamic start. Celestial Voyager's line up is Jukka Kunnas (bass), Jan Hirvonen (drums), Kimmo Pitkänen (guitars), Cristian Cifuentes (lead guitars). This band is quite ambitious, after releasing this debut album they want gigs. Therefore they have composed additional songs. Songs which will appear on the second album.
When I first listened to the album, there was one thing which struck me. The band introduced itself as an instrumental rock band. The biography says “Band's super melodic music is built on exciting compositions and a strong foundation of drums and bass, letting guitars and keyboards do the painting of soundscapes.” This is a very beautiful sentence. It's also well chosen.
What was it that struck me? I was ready for Satriani and Vai when I first listened to the album. But it turned out to be something completely different.
I have never heard an album which was so melodic, that I didn't miss the vocals at all. It's unbelievable but true. After some cogitatating I came to the conclusion that the guitar parts are so melodic, that they replace the vocals. Personally I find this an intelligent solution. All the tracks on the album are exciting.
Normally I give a brief description of all the songs on the album. But because most of the songs have more or less the same structure, I will only describe the highlights and the exceptional tracks.
The album opens with the up tempo track 02-210. This song starts with rather heavy riffs. After a while the lead guitar takes control of the song. As I said, no overdose of shredding but just melodic- fast parts. It grabbed me immediately. Blueshifting is a track which I find one of the best. It's mid- to up tempo and ingeniously played. Cifuentes prooves he is a really great guitarist, one to keep an eye on.
The greatest song on the album, in my humble opinion is the title track Celestial Voyager. It contains several melodic layers. Great guitar riffs and fabulous solo's alternate with each other. The song has so much beauty in it. I can listen to it for hours.
Another Earth has an atmosphere which is exceptional to the rest. Some parts are a little bit funky or fusion, guitar parts are of high quality. At the end of the song even Eastern European scales are used. Talk about tension!
Resumé, Celestial Voyager has surprised me in a positive way. For me it is a sensational discovery. The band has a lot more material in the pipeline. So I believe album number two will follow soon. Furthermore, I am curious as to how this band will perform live. Meanwhile the band now includes a keyboard player. With regard to upcoming gigs it's a logical choice. I am very curious what the future holds for this band. They could be a rising star.
****+ Aad Bannink (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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