KATELLA – SHADES OF GREY/FREAKSHOW 47 (Arkeyn Steel Records)

Review by Stefan: The honor and appreciation is completely on my side when I am allowed to enter the world of US Metal. This magical genre for me has brought me to higher spheres since the beginning of the 80s and my crusade through the years in search of interesting bands has led me to be the proud owner of an extensive collection of genuine American steel. One of the record labels that has allowed me to meet genius US Metal bands is the Greek Arkeyn Steel company. On the 21st of December it was again a great day for me when the label came up with the band Katella, from Wisconsin Milwaukee. I must honestly admit that I had never heard of this name, so a reason to take a closer look at their music and to put down my feelings about their way of playing.

Originally, Katella was founded in 1990 with the intention to offer their style of melodic heavy metal to the outside world. As time went by the band became stronger and stronger and the moment had come to throw a first EP “Shades Of Grey” (1995) on the market, released through a small company Megalithic Records. The number of copies was limited to 1000 and so I am not confused when I read that all copies were sold in no time, those who own the original version these days may be very proud. First real work for Katella was a hit and they immediately worked on a successor which finally got the dawn in sight five years later.

Entitled “Freakshow 47” (2000), a full album where the class of their predecessor was exceeded without any effort. Once again only 1000 copies were offered, so here again the same scenario, a fairly quick sale to regret for the people who saw a purchase go by. To my great annoyance I have to say that I could not get hold of the original versions but Arkeyn Steel Records comes with the ideal solution to make it up in some way. Both works are now available, in fully digital remastered condition, one 1 CD ! Be aware that only 500 hand-numbered copies are available, packed with lyrics and unreleased images. On top of all, the CD has a little extra on board, be ready for a song ‘Final Day’ taken from their never released demo “Winds Of Change” (1990). Very strong composition with cut throat riffs and outstanding leads and good point to me, more high pitched vocal lines !

The sound quality is real good and the playing time is approximately 78 minutes, a stretched period of time where lovers of melodic heavy metal can fully enjoy their favorite precious style of music. The vocals of Tim Rice are fantastic, not high pitched but just clear, stable, powerful and melodic. The right vocal techniques are applied to tempt me…  on their debut he sounded good, but on the second album his singing quality earned even more appreciation and achieves a top level ! For some reason, he does me reminds of Dee Snider singing during the first era of Twisted Sister. Henri Schlipp and Jeff Randall, both axemen in charge walk the same footpaths of their frontman, the same class and conviction are clearly present. There are no moments to be seen where the musical aspect has to compromise on quality, the level remains steadily high and very enjoyable. The bass lines of Scott Schlipp are inscrutable and the drum parts of Brian Noona meet all my requirements and expectations… every piece of the musical puzzle fits together perfectly, especially on their 2000 release, Katella pulverizes my imagination.

They clearly chose not to make the structure of the songs complicated. The emphasis in Katella is on the implementation and not on the unnecessary complication of songs, the right decision to me. Annoyance hits me because I have never met this beautiful band before… this kind of metal is my life – my support when it does not go well with me, trust me when I say that I can’t live without this gem. Some people think this is a ridiculous expression, well I’m convinced it’s their reaction that is fully rubbish ! Everyone lives according to their own standards and values, what others think does not interest me so let me conclude with a VERY positive note, Katella must be in the sights of every human being who is attracted by the magical powers of melodic heavy metal music from the US of A.

Must-have for fans of early Fifth Angel/Riot/Armored Saint, Born Of Fire, Fates Warning, Q5, Angelica, Heir Apparent. Don’t think twice, order HERE. While “Shades Of Grey” has a mid-80s character with an early stage progressive touch, “Freakshow 47” brings a bit more modern vibe, especially during chorus lines. The musical contrast between the EP and the full album is a fact, but the band has done the right things to keep everything in perfect balance. I really like the effort !

My rating: 88/100 (Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it)

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