The level of diversity available with metal music is a wonderful thing. At any given moment, I’m completely enamored with two or three styles of metal, but those styles are constantly in flux, my needs and desires shifting with the mood of a given day. Lately, I’ve been coming back around to symphonic metal. Embrace of Disharmony launched me back in, and I’ve come to miss that orchestral, symphonic, and otherwise over-the-top element in my heavy metal. Enter Glasya. Formed in 2016, Heaven’s Demise is the debut album by this project. Masterminded by one Hugo Esteves, its stated purpose is to take the idea behind symphonic metal, and make it even more dramatic and cinematographic than it already is. That’s right, friends, we are striding boldly and bravely into “more is more” territory.
Unfortunately, things don’t start out in quite the direction I was hoping for. Had I listened to opener “Heaven’s Demise” outside of the context I did, you might have been able to convince me it was a new Nightwish single. The upbeat, pseudo-power chugging combined with a predictable song structure and over-the-top orchestrations are all-too reminiscent of said symphonic metal titan. Vocalist Eduarda Soeiro was recruited to Glasya after Esteves heard her sing in a Nightwish cover band (Nightdream), and there is a very clear Tarja Turunen/Floor Jansen inspiration to her style, leaning closer to the Jansen side of things. The good news is that she is very talented as a singer — the bad news is that there is nothing to really distinguish her voice and style from from what we’ve all heard before.
This issue is only compounded as the album continues. A couple of tracks down the line, “Coronation of a Beggar” sounds suspiciously like a Xandria track, and the comparisons just keep on coming. “Birth of an Angel,” the “obligatory ballad,” could have easily come from any number of symphonic big names. Soeiro offers a terrific performance, but the orchestrations aren’t evocative enough, the guitar parts feel a little tacked on, and I just can’t be moved by any of it. In “The Last Dying Sun,” the band forays into some of their heaviest material, and yet the guitars are a little subdued in the mix, with the chugging being ultimately generic and forgettable. As is typical of the style, the vocals hold production dominance at all times.
There are, however, a few glimmers of promise throughout Heaven’s Demise that argue for checking it out. “Glasya” is the first track on the album that really sounds like the band’s own. Upbeat and grand, it introduces clean and growled male vocals as a strong contrast to Soeiro’s style and feels like a cohesive story in which everything comes together just right. Follower “Eternal Winter” allows the guitarists to shine with surprisingly powerful leads and solos, with a chorus that lingers in the brain courtesy of some smart choral parts and simple lyrics that make the song easier to follow. Production-wise, I have no complaints, as the band’s sound is clear, and the mix allows enough room for the orchestral and metal elements of the album in roughly equal measure. I also really like the way that every song flows into the next; this is one of the most well-put-together albums I’ve heard in a while. While these spots of promise can’t make up for the relative unoriginality that dominates Heaven’s Demise, they do make a good case for keeping an eye on Glasya in the future.
It can be difficult to reconcile an album that holds these indicators of potential with the score it ultimately receives. As a whole, Heaven’s Demise doesn’t do nearly enough to distinguish itself from its contemporaries. For the most part, this album did very little to move me or make me feel anything as I listened. As much as I believe this band is capable of releasing an exciting symphonic metal release, Heaven’s Demise leans way too hard on its inspirations. Though it will likely appeal to those who enjoy hearing those same acts repeated over and over again, I will be crossing my fingers and hoping for some serious experimentation next time.