In January of 2007, I received one of the best packages of my teenage years, purchased with a Best Buy gift card I received for Christmas. The box contained two CDs: The Best of Led Zeppelin, and Cellador’s Enter Deception. While the former helped kickstart my affinity for classic rock, the latter, an uncharacteristically high quality American power metal record that did Euro-power better than most Euro-power bands, cemented my newfound love for the genre. Many late nights were spent playing Final Fantasy VI in the dark with Enter Deception on repeat as every note and lyric was cemented into my long-term memory. Creative differences and unreliable band members almost totally dissolved Cellador before their planned second album For All or Nothing1 could ever be recorded, and now, ten years later, Off the Grid casually appears in the AMG promo bin. If there’s anything Final Fantasy taught me over the course of the past decade, though, it’s that long-awaited projects are often doomed to result in crippling disappointment. Off the Grid crushes this curse.

Where Enter Deception-era Cellador was essentially a keyboard-less, thrashier (and superior) DragonForce, Cellador circa 2017 is a lean and efficient power metal machine. Not a single second of Off the Grid feels wasted as new riffs flow forth at a brisk clip, and the solos are carefully crafted so as to feel like an integral part of the songs rather than an obligatory thirty seconds of guitar masturbation. There’s so much variety here; from thrashers (“Shadowfold,” “This Means War”) to X Japan homages (“Shimmering Status”) to the fucking Cyndi Lauper cover (“Good Enough”), this is an absolute blast to listen to, front to back, every spin. Lead songwriter and sole original member Chris Petersen could have been content with repeating his past successes, yet his dedication to refining Cellador’s approach has resulted in an album that is more varied and technical in its instrumentation and with more nuance in its emotive melodies.

My only minor reservation with Off the Grid on the songwriting front is that the songs aren’t ambitious from a compositional standpoint. The record sticks to traditional verse-chorus patterns, and while Enter Deception did this as well, the tracks on that album felt more complex because of the extended intro sections and huge, adventurous solos. This trade off means that Off the Grid is vastly more efficient and packs two extra tracks into a shorter runtime than Cellador‘s debut, and while it’s certainly a fantastic value, a part of me misses the epic feel of older tracks like “Seen Through Time.” That being said, Off the Grid is unquestionably the better album moment-to-moment. Cellador introduces surprises in nearly every cut to command my attention until each song’s end, whether it’s the second verse riff shake-ups on “Shadowfold” and “Off the Grid” or the eight measures of black metal that barge in before the solo of “Wake Up the Tyrant.”

Giving a fair assessment of Off the Grid‘s production is essentially impossible, as the 160kbps promo we received makes it sound like a muddy mess. Comparing its sound with the official release of the first single track “Shadowfold,” though, leaves me very optimistic for the CD release; the guitars possess a powerful metallic crunch, the bass is totally audible (even on my promo), and the snare and bass drum have a pop to them that’s totally satisfying. While the production is vastly superior to the prior album, the new performers had a difficult task in living up to the former line-up’s talent, and thankfully this new crew is brimming with talent. New guitarist Eric Meyers constantly and flawlessly harmonizes with Petersen, and the latter comfortably slips into his new role as the band’s vocalist. At times it can sound as though he’s straining to reach the upper registers, but his timbre has an appealing touch of grit to it, and his wide range introduces new possibilities for Cellador in terms of vocal melodies.

While many successful comeback albums are hailed for the band in question “picking up where they left off,” Off the Grid sounds like the result of ten years of secluded evolution: refined, concise, and consistently great. Fans expecting Enter Deception 2 might be a bit disappointed, but ultimately Cellador has produced one of the best power metal releases of the last couple of years. If you like your power metal crafted with speed, heart, and boundless energy, don’t miss this one.


Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 160 kbps mp3
Label: King Records (Japan) | Scarlet Records (Rest of the world)
Websites: cellador.com | facebook.com/Cellador
Releases Dates: JP: 2017.02.22 | WW: 03.10.2017

Show 1 footnote

  1. I guess they went with the latter.

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  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    it is 4am and this shouldn’t be making me laugh nearly as much as it is considering i’m probably the only person to make the connection http://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/13e142c4434e47e6044375a9c4ed12fd538a4d0f5eeb0cf618ce3893a6e841ea.jpg

    • Eldritch Elitist

      I remember an old interview from back when Cellador’s first album came out where they said they named the band after Tolkien’s affinity for the phrase “cellar door,” so you’re not wrong!

      • AlphaBetaFoxface

        The amount of times comments on this site have made me choke on my tea is borderline ridiculous.

      • herrschobel

        yo cella dor ? is that the Harlem equivalent to cellar door ?

        • sir_c

          It’s Arnold Schwarzenegger telling about his wine collection

    • Kronos

      I KEPT THINKING THIS.

  • Grymm

    Final Fantasy VI > all other Final Fantasies before or since.

    • Eldritch Elitist

      Cat man confirmed for having good taste in games.

      • Grymm

        With the only possible exception being Final Fantasy Tactics.

        I want a console sequel, Square Enix!

        • Matt slatz

          I freaking love FF tactics……If we get a sequel, I’m afraid I’ll lose my gainful employment

    • Anarchist

      I hold IV in similarly high regard, but that might just be nostalgia from it being the first true Final Fantasy I ever played.

      • Grymm

        Just to be clear, I loved VI the most, but also really liked Tactics, IV, IX, X, and XII. Dissidia was also cool.

        The rest? Meh.

        • [not a Dr]

          At some point, they’ll have to admit that when you get to the 12th sequel, it means it was never really Final..

    • Levly

      I’m sorry, I prefer Final Fantasy IV, I found the characters more endearing and the story more engrossing (you end up on the freakin’ moon!). Some really bullshit difficulty spikes though…

      • Grymm

        But in VI, you get to suplex a train!

        • Levly

          Hahaha, touché ;). Although I didn’t, I just used a Phoenix Down and psht, gone. Felt like cheating ;)

          • Grymm

            I’ve done that too… But the fact that the option to suplex a train is there to begin with is just bad-ass!

          • Levly

            Can’t mess with Sabin, yo!

  • antitayyip

    i hate clean vocals in power metal…

    • Eldritch Elitist

      I mean, that limits you to around two bands, but okay!

      • [not a Dr]

        Now I’m curious. What are those bands?

        • Eldritch Elitist

          The two I can think of off the top of my head are Demoniac (black/power metal from guys who are now in DragonForce) and Crimson Shadows (power metal/melodeath). Bal-Sagoth might count too.

          • ssorg

            I guess this will do until DragonForce dump Hudson and hire Lord Worm

          • Grymm

            I would pay good money to see/hear this.

          • Hideous destructor

            Aren’t Children of Bodom just power metal with black metal box? Follow the reaper certainly is anyway.

        • antitayyip

          kalmah

      • ssorg

        Wait what bands? Please tell me somebody has done the power metal/brootal death band mix I’ve dreamt about…

        • [not a Dr]

          I have always wanted to hear tech-death with power metal vocals.

          • ssorg

            My dream was the other way around. Cookie monster singing about dragons and shit

          • Eldritch Elitist

            Then Crimson Shadows is your band!

          • ssorg

            Seems more melodeath/power metal (and the cleans are kinda painful). But the itch is scratched for now. thnx!

          • [not a Dr]

            Now also in my wish list.

          • Lars Barres

            Had never heard of these guys – I like ’em. Thanks for the heads up.

          • Lars Barres

            Not exactly what you’re looking for, but you might dig this oldie if you haven’t heard it: Brimstone “Carving a Crimson Career”

          • SlimJimothy

            Love that album, its basically Melodic Death Power Metal.

          • [not a Dr]

            That would make a great song title (as well as an epic growled chorus). Drrrrrrragons! Dragons and shit!

          • AlphaBetaFoxface

            are we talking melodic First Fragment wank that could actually work or atonal riffage ala Gorguts because hot damn would some battle-cry yelling sound bizarre over a progression consisting entirely of tritones

          • [not a Dr]

            Any or both. I don’t mind bizarre. I’ve been listening to Gorod’s A Maze of Recycled Creeds, and I believe that it would also have worked awesome with air-raid, balls-stuck-in-the-doorframe vocals.

          • Tommot

            I’d say Control Denied is just that

          • [not a Dr]

            Thanks! This is exactly what I was looking for.

            The blurb on bandcamp is very disappointing: “CONTROL DENIED, the progressive heavy metal brainchild of legendary
            guitarist Chuck Schuldiner, released its first and only album The
            Fragile Art of Existence (’99) to massive critical acclaim.”

          • SlimJimothy

            Go listen to Eternity’s End, its the guitar player from Obscure basically doing super tech neo-classical power metal.

          • [not a Dr]

            This is awesome.
            BTW, anyone knows how many bands include 3 or more members of Alkaloid?

        • Kronos

          Uhh… First Fragment maybe?

          • [not a Dr]

            Now in my wish list. How did I manage to miss that?

          • Kronos

            Obviously you are not a devotee of Kronos reviews.

          • [not a Dr]

            I’m a devotee of all reviews on this site. But sometimes work catches up with me and I have to actually earn my pay instead of reading every article and comment on this site. When that happens, teh brvvtalz tend to get less of my attention than the sad-boy stuff or the He-Man-like artworked albums.

        • antitayyip

          kalmah…

        • GardensTale

          There’s also Beyond the Sixth Seal for heavy metal with death growls

        • On the flip side, Desultor do death metal with (mostly) clean vocals and it works.

        • David

          Maybe firsts kiuas albums

    • metalcasket

      Look up Brimstone’s Carving a Crimson Career. ;)

      • antitayyip

        killer

  • herrschobel

    that triceps is just too big kiddo … try using the other arm when noodling your ‘you know what’ .. crazy how tastes differ…i hate this almost as much as Justin Bieber and Jon fucking Bon Jovi…now come and get it

    • [not a Dr]

      Marx could never get enough Bon Jovi.

      • herrschobel

        you got it all wrong…Bon Jovi can never get enough sweet Justin Bieber…and me and Karl agreed to disagree on this questionable love for ol’ Jon

  • Greg Hasbrouck

    I’m looking forward to checking this out tonight. Power metal is one of my favorite sub-genres, but seems to be the one most frequently absent of quality as of late.

  • walk_among_us

    these dudes are still around!?! holy crap. pretty sure i saw them open for stratovarius in 2006.

  • [not a Dr]

    “If you like your power metal crafted with speed, heart, and boundless energy […]” Don’t forget power. And Metal.

    If you like your power metal crafted with speed, heart, and boundless energy, and power and metal.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      For some weird reason too often they forget to put “Power” in Power Metal.

  • Reese Burns

    It ain’t really my bag, but hearing that a band someone loved way back when managed to impresse them with a new album after all these years brought a smile to my face.

  • GardensTale

    I don’t care what you all think. This album is fucking fun.

    • [not a Dr]

      What?!?!? More power metal? We’re drowning in it! wherez is the brootalz?!?

      • GardensTale

        Dude it’s literally the 6th power metal album this year. That’s one every 11 days. If that’s your definition of drowning, you need a pool floatie.

        • [not a Dr]

          I was trolling the kvlt brigade, those who comment their dislike of power metal on every review. If I ever find myself drowning in power metal, it will be because of the nightmares in the pool in Still Life.

  • Piet

    Cellador was one of my gateway bands into (power) metal. Man I loved the cheese back in the day. Who am I kidding, I still love it!

  • JL

    eh the embedded song is rather bland with some vanilla vocals for sure. ill stick to the Iottun EP from last year.

  • antitayyip

    Hey AMG! will you review Battle Beast’s and Depeche Mode’s lastest albums? thanks..

  • Dead1

    Band name sounds like cellar door which is basically a shop at a vineyard here in Oz.
    Makes me wish I was out on the road with the wife doing a few tastings instead of at bloody work. :(

    • Dead1

      Forgot to mention, the embedded song was pretty fucking meh. The thrashy bits were welcome simply because most power metal bands no longer bother with any kind of heaviness. Chorus was boring as fuck.
      They need a better singer – someone with balls ala Matt Barlow or Mark Tornillo or even someone ala Andi Deris.

  • David D.

    This is fucking unbelievably good. I haven’t wanted to air guitar like this since Pathfinder’s debut

  • Serjien

    What a fun/enjoyable album!
    We have had quite a few good power metal albums this year thus far.

  • El Lado Oscuro

    Generic, too many references to the real thing and not that good voice. But the band’s instrumental quality is good.