Karelia was born in 1999 with a wish to bring something new to a saturated Heavy Metal scene. To this goal, Lionel Vest (guitars/keyboards) and Matthieu Kleiber (guitars/vocals) tried to implement a Metal band including classic musicals but soon after realized that the logistics of such a structure was too complicated.
In an attempt to keep a symphonic side in their music, they used classical samples complemented with electronic drums and bass. Bertrand Maillot (keyboards) then joined the band, bringing in his talents as a composer. Sebastien Fellmann took charge of the lead guitar. This line-up released a demo, recorded and mastered in the Lionel Vest's home studio. Despite the errors, people found in their style a new trend, as Karelia's music could not be related to any another Metal band; 400 copies of the debut self-titled 2000 maxi single were sold.
Live concerts with such acts as Kamelot, At Vance, Vanden Plas, Dyslesia, as well as contacts with production companies put forward the need to play with a real rhythmic section. Casting then began among Eastern-France musicians finally resulting in two gifted and practiced musicians from the Heavy Metal band Jerican in the form of Loïc Jenn (drums) and Erwan Morice (guitars). Sebastien Fellmann then left the band. Lionel Vest, however, launched in some classical projects independently only to keep the technical part of his job in Karelia with respect to his orchestral arrangements direction.
After the line-up changes, Matthieu Kleiber and Bertrand Maillot, the music composers of Karelia, were trying to keep the original spirit of their melodies but realized that financial support was necessary in order to get a chance on the international scene. Thanks to the relative and local success of the former line-up and the interest from some labels, Karelia got the opportunity to sign up with Studios Blue Bird in the beginning of year 2002. The band got the benefit from that deal of increased access to bigger production by means of symphonic arrangements, the assistance of some choirists from the well-known Opéra du Rhin, a mix by Renaud Hebinger, and an ex-colleague of Colin Richardson featured on productions like Fear Factory and Machine Head). With such access, Karelia had the opportunity to record a debut album full of symphonic influences, which ended off getting proposals from numerous labels. The band decided to work with 'Drakkar/BMG' to produce their Usual Tragedy debut album released in 2004.
Their second studio album, Raise, released in 2005 on 'Drakkar Records' was not as orchestral as the previous but has dark, melancholic atmospheres that could already be heard on the first album were again present.
In January 2007, keyboardist Bertrand Maillot left the band, with Jack Ruesch replacing him as second guitarist.
Restless followed in 2008.
Golden Decadence followed featuring guest Rudolf Schenker of Scorpions on guitar for the tracks Keep Watching Me The Way Across The Hills and the 3 bonus tracks, including Queen The Show Must Go On.
June 2012, the group found themselves on stage with the Scorpions for their last day in France at the outdoor amphitheater at the Zenith of Nancy Nancy Festival On The Rocks.
Inexplicably, the band suddenly quit in May 2013.