Tales of Gaia – Hypernova (Fighter Records)Tuesday, 10th October 2017
In certain genres of heavy music, there’s a level of standards and practices acceptable for the ardent consumers. When it comes to power metal, especially of the uplifting/bombastic variety (which put Helloween at the top of the heap), the music and vocals need to have proper leverage to convince listeners you are the real deal. Unfortunately for Tales of Gaia from Barcelona, Spain, their full-length Hypernova delivers competent riffs and hooks from a musical standpoint – but probably sends most running for the hills the minute they hear the awkward, shrill melodies of vocalist Néstor Català.
Major, happy twin guitar lines and proper keyboard support remain part and parcel of the Tales of Gaia game plan – the type of measures that align well with Freedom Call and Heavenly audiences right away for “Keep the Dream Alive”. When the band chooses to decelerator into a mid-tempo arrangement, the piano passages against the main addictive guitar melody that weaves in and throughout “City of Dreams” harken back to mid-90’s Gamma Ray – allowing drummer Sergi Sabater a chance to flex more of a free- flowing fill template against his versatile snare/double kick tricks. Symphonic patches bring about Rhapsody-like nuances for the five-minute plus “Knights of Heidelberg” instrumental, while “A Thousand Miles Away” features the neoclassical keyboard/guitar duels power mavens savor.
All is amiss though because of the unique, upper register range of Néstor. It’s like he is a female version of a minion, or possibly one of the hobbits in a Lord of the Rings saga – shrill and wrenching out every last note as if his life depended on it, but very weak and ill-conceived against the music on display. You would have to hear it to believe it – check out “Flamma Ardet” or “Keep the Dream Alive” for best examples of why Tales of Gaia may want to think about going to a sixth singer in their career or be relegated to a very hit or miss appeal in a picky metal climate. Hypernova may work best as a karaoke platter – or an instrumental-oriented product, as it provides solid proof that the wrong singer can indeed push people away rather than entertain the hordes.