Czech melodic power metal band Sebastien is deceiving you with their new album. Short songs and catchy choruses make you believe you are dealing with just Another Average Album™ of the genre, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. While Sebastien has “only” been around since circa 2008, most of its members can bring more than 10 years of musical experience to the table. Internationally, however, Sebastien might be the most famous outlet among the various musical efforts of the band members. That is not to say that this is a wildly popular band, even in power metal circles the two previous outputs “Tears Of White Roses” and “Dark Chambers Of Déjà Vu” didn’t resonate too much. “Act Of Creation” (I wonder how long they will keep up the “X of Y” pattern) tries yet again to strengthen Sebastien‘s position in the scene and could actually succeed.
“Act Of Creation” fronts as a simple power metal album featuring upbeat refrains and fast-paced, energetic tracks backed up by George Rain’s colossally gravelly voice, comparable to Jo Amore, Jorn Lande and Nils Patrik Johansson. Maybe a bit softer in parts, but definitely able to belt out some aggressive tunes when necessary. Now, this recipe – unique, powerful voice over lively (power) metal songs – oftentimes passes for a good album, and that is that. There are many bands employing this method and delivering successfully each time, over and over again. Lucky for the listeners and good on Sebastien that the Czech band does not follow this stale program.
The opening track “Act Of Creation” displays the twofold natures of this album’s compositions. It took me about ten spins of the album to see this track for what it is: a really good Kamelot song. Listening to the album a few times, you will surely enjoy the memorable choruses and the overall kick of energy that streams through Act Of Creation’s veins akin to Sabaton‘s tunes, but only after having spent quite some time with the CD the progressive structures reveal themselves to you.
Of course, there are songs that are what they seem to be. “No Destination” for example is an amazing beater with some of the most powerful vocals on this album, “Amy” is your token rock-like single and “Winner” reminds of a more power metal-centered version of Amaranthe. Those songs are great, but where Sebastien really shine is at more flavorful, dynamic and diverse compositions. At first, the easy tracks will pull you in and impress you with their energy, but after a while you recognize the real masterpieces hiding in plain sight.
“Heal My Soul” is an anthem that reminds of just another power ballad, but grows with every listening session. In the end you will come to realize that this song was actually ghostwritten by Dan Swanö and should have been released on a Nightingale album. Sebastien are really good at having you listen twice, hell, twenty times until you notice every aspect of a song. This is absolutely vital to interesting albums because it keeps you invested. Instead of going stale with simple compositions, “Act Of Creation” actually gets better every time you listen to it. Songs like “Die In Me”, “Full Moon Child” and “My Empire” all seem quite good and enjoyable at first but grow to be more interesting than the songs that made you go “Wow!” during your initial spin.
Sadly there are a few stinkers on “Act Of Creation” as well, namely the three (!) full-on ballads “Queen From The Stars”, “Hero” and “Promises”. Sebastien are not good at writing ballads like Kamelot are. And then there are some average tracks like “Evermore” and “Amy” which do not live up to the complexity and inspiration of the rest of the album. All that said, there is still a great deal of amazing compositions to be discovered on “Act Of Creation” which quickly makes you forget the mediocre pieces. At a running time of 61 minutes it is easy to forgive some fillers.
Describing “Act Of Creation” is hard due to its unique combination of extremely catchy ditties like “No Destination”, “Wake Up” or “Winner” and complex songs such as “Heal My Soul” or “Act Of Creation”. Various influences are spilled all over the album, there is some Kamelot, there is Evergrey, there is Sabaton and there is Nightingale. Overall this album offers a suprisingly enjoyable listening experience, able to be played twenty times in a row and still growing. Any fan of the aforementioned bands or progressive power metal should have a peep at this.