Review by Stefan: We met this Belgian band in response to their first EP entitled “The First Hour”, I think early 2018. At that time, my longtime friend/brother in US Metal took care of the review and he came to the conclusion that the band had a lot to offer. Feel free to read his opinion regarding the 4 songs of the EP right HERE . A bit more than one year have elapsed since the release of “The First Hour” and I can tell you that the band has had to deal with numerous changes within the fold during this period of time.
Back then the band was struggling with internal discomforts and some musicians decided to leave the ranks but founding members Erik Callaerts (guitars) and bassist Benny Vercammen (both played in bands at Omega X and loads of other metal institutes), consistently and wholeheartedly started looking for new driving forces that had saved the band from a ruin. For clarity, drummer Kjell De Raes decided to not leave the band.
Filip Lemmens (former FireForce singer) joined forces with CA for a while as guest singer but with the eye on the new full length album, Erik and Benny decided to add a female voice to the ranks listening to the name Marieke Bresseleers (Lords Of Acid, Unbroken). Is this a definitive choice or does she only sings on the new album as a ‘guest member’? Well I don’t know for sure… as always, time will tell ! She has a wonderful way of singing with an extensive vocal range. The regrouped Cygnus also had to search for a keyboard player finally founded by Anke De Raes.
With a renewed lineup, Cygnus Atratus presents their new album “The Empyrean Heaven”, still unsigned but the result is darn good ! Read my conclusion s follows…
Besides the amazing looking cover artwork, the whole package looks very attractive/professional, and informative. If you allow me to be honest, I want to say that the quality of sound is rather moderate. Maybe I would formulate it differently and describe the production ‘not too polished’ instead. This minimal point of criticism can be wiped off the table when you have heard the entire album, really !
Eight songs plus one bonus track, trust me on my word when I tell ya’ll that Cygnus Atratus’ unsigned status isn’t fair enough because all of the present compositions are just very well worked out and they really deserve to ink a proper deal, the sooner the better. Music and lyrics delivered by Erik Callaerts, and with all respect and dignity for the other members as well, this person stole my attention right from the start. As a fan of scorching shred guitar tactics, Erik offers me nothing but moments of joy while he reminds me of William J Tsamis during the very early Warlord era. Guitar picking without using too much effect pedals gets my preference. Gimme some pure, ‘no beating around the bush’ type of shred tactics and you won’t hear me complain at all!
But Erik not only makes this new album very attractive, his fellow musicians also deliver an excellent performance, let that be clear. As told before, the vocals Of Marieke to sound sweet, clear and stable… I feel a pleasant attraction between her sweet-voiced way of singing and the music style of the band, melodious symphonic progpower metal. The mutual chemistry in between the bass and drum lines to work out contagious and last but not least, Anke De Raes’ keyboard actions are fairly centrally arranged and give extra dimension to the global concept.
Songs that you should definitely listen to are opener ‘Ritual’ where Erik’s finger-tight guitar work is immediately put in a bright light, technical and melodic. Also the drums to pound mercilessly, another striking argument to mention are the genius keyboards and of course the great and well-fitting vocals. Excellent songwriting and the rhythm achieve a solid level. Also be aware of next song ‘Solitude’ and its quality time progpower metal attitude, masterfully built up as should be. Instrumental ‘Sunrise’ brings out virtuosity from the top shelf, told you before about my passion for flammable guitar actions… this one, and second instrumental ‘War’ fully meet my requirements !
A next load of progpower metal pleasure is coming with ‘Oblivion’ and ‘After All’, in the tradition of first songs… excellent stuff in my opinion. THE highlight to me is ‘Lady Of Stone’ where the songwriting achieves a very high level. With this way song structure you can achieve worldwide recognition without a doubt. Progressive power metal seems to be their main key and god damn, Cygnus Atratus does it very, very well ! There is only one number that can’t convince me but that is due to the symphonic arrangements and somewhat too tame character the song have to deal with… pure personal meaning !
With this very strong album “The Empyrean Heaven”, the band issues a business card that hopefully will reap the benefits it deserves. The progress towards their EP is optimally present and that’s a good sign for the future. They have the quality at hand and I predict a positive future for this band to be proud of here in Belgium, and abroad ! Fans of progressive power metal, check ‘em out at: http://cygnusprogmetalweb.com/ / https://cygnusatratus.bandcamp.com/
My rating: 89/100 (Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)