Heroes In Time
"What would it sound like if Amaranthe decided to ditch all their male vocals and let Elize Ryd perform all vocal lines on her own? Well, you’d probably get something that sounds a bit like Heroes in Time, the debut from Swedish melodic metal band Metalite. Obviously, the aforementioned band has become a big success over the years, taking metal in a much more accessible direction, so it makes sense that many other bands would follow suit, and Metalite is the latest such band to try their hand at a very melodic and accessible brand of melodic metal, while still maintaining enough heaviness to avoid having their music fall too far into pop territory. With the obligatory comparison out of the way, though, I must say Heroes in Time is an excellent debut, which at times feels somewhat familiar, but still, does enough to stand on its own and proves to be a worthy new contender in the melodic metal playing field.
Metalite was formed by guitarist Edwin Premberg, and his guitar work is very impressive at times, with some hard-hitting riffs and some truly fantastic melodic guitar solos. At the same time, though, despite not having a keyboardist listed in their lineup, this album has plenty of very modern sounding keys, and in fact the keys often dominate many of the tracks, giving the music a very trance-like feel at times, which is part of what makes the music so accessible and so catchy. There’s certainly a ton of digital effects used on the keys here as well, and it all sounds very good. Compared to similar bands, I’d say the music on this album maintains the catchiness you’d expect from Amaranthe, while also having strong power metal elements at times, like Temperance and Dynazty on their last couple of albums, though the songwriting never quite gets as inventive or as challenging as either of those bands can be at their best. Which isn’t to say the songs are bad, though, far from it. In fact, the songwriting is very consistent across the board, with every song being excellent and there is a decent amount of variety, though most songs are very upbeat, very melodic, simple and extremely catchy.
If you’re going to be making an album as centered around catchy vocal lines as this album is, you need to have a capable vocalist, and thankfully Emma Bensing proves herself to be very good on this album. She has a very light voice that’s very much suited to this style of music, often staying in midrange and singing very calmly in a way that allows the melodies to shine through well, though there are times where she starts pushing for higher notes and singing with more power and emotion, and those points are the highlights of the album, as she always hits every note perfectly without anything sounding forced or strained. In fact, the only advice Id give her is to maybe push herself a bit more often, as she definitely sounds more powerful on some tracks than on others, and on the songs where she sounds more fully invested, she sounds amazing.
Moving onto the songwriting, and the album gets off an excellent start right out of the gate. Opener “Afterlife” is a perfect choice for the lead single, as it’s a very fast-paced, accessible track which has just a bit of heaviness to it, while also being very melodic and having an insanely catchy and memorable chorus. Emma sounds a bit more restrained on this track than on others, but she still does a great job, especially towards the end of the song. Moving on, “Purpose of Life” is a lighter, more mid-paced track, with the keys leading the way right from the start, with a very trance-like feel, and it’s another very catchy track, with occasional bursts of speed to help make it even better. Next is “Nightmare”, another very radio friendly track, where the keys again lead the way, though it moves a very fast pace like the opening track, and is the first song where I think Emma really shines, as she pushes for higher notes during the chorus, and generally seems to be very invested in this track. The last run through the chorus is especially fantastic, and the guitar solo near the end of the track is also very impressive.
From here, many of the tracks fall into a similar pattern, being very speedy throughout, with some heavy riffs at times, that often give way to the modern sounding keys, and the band manages to strike a good balance between being accessible and catchy, while still having a slight metal edge at all times. This continues with “The Hunter”, which has some power metal elements but also has some very pop influenced vocal lines at times. Another speedier track is“Power of Metal”, which definitely could have the “of” in its name removed and still be an accurate name, though it’s a very modernized form of the genre, of course, and is another very fun and catchy track, with some great vocals. Other faster-paced tracks include “Over and Done”, which feels very familiar, especially with how the keys sound at times, though it’s yet another very fun and catchy track, with an absolutely beautiful guitar solo that stands as easily the best on the album, “The Light of Orion”, which has an amazing guitar solo as well as excellent chorus, with Emma really shining especially near the end, “Black Horse Rider”, which has some excellent melodic guitar leads as well as some heavier riffs, and is another very power metal influenced track, with an extremely fast and powerful chorus, where Emma sounds very fiery, and lastly we have “The Great Force”, which again has some familiar sounding keys, and is yet another fast-paced track with a fantastic chorus, great guitar work, and some nice modern sounding keys.
On the slower side, the title track is the most trance influenced track on the album, with the band really going into overdrive with all the keyboard effects, especially during the intro and the instrumental section in the middle. It’s a fairly slow paced, but ridiculously catchy track where Emma shows off her higher register quite nicely and does a great job during the chorus. My one criticism on this track is more of a minor nitpick, in that I think it’s kinda silly to have lyrics talking about computers in a bad way, with lines like “technology will be our fall”, all while clearly making heavy use of digital effects throughout the track, even more so than on the rest of the album. It’s just a case of the music and lyrics conflicting with each other, I think, but it definitely sounds great, so at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. Lastly, we have “In the Middle of the Night”, the lone ballad on the album, which is again very keyboard drove and it serves an excellent showcase for Emma’s vocals, as her voice is very low and calm in the early parts of the track, but she gradually goes higher and sounds more emotional as the track progresses, with the final run through the chorus being absolutely stunning. There’s also an amazing, very emotional sounding guitar solo in the middle, and overall it’s an excellent track which serves as a nice change of pace during the mostly very speedy second half of the album.
Overall, Heroes in Time is an excellent debut, which continues the trend of modern melodic metal that strikes a balance between being very accessible and catchy, with a heavy use of keyboards and some very accessible vocals, while still having enough of an edge to appeal to metal fans, especially power metal fans on many of the tracks. I think there’s room for the band to maybe to push things a bit further with some more complex or more surprising songwriting, but everything that’s here works great and I definitely think Metalite is a band to watch out for. Highly recommended for any fan of melodic metal." - My Global Mind