Opus Atlantica - Opus Atlantica

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Regain Records
Catalog Number: RR0211-018/RNA1018
Format: CD
Total Time: 35:49:00

If you were to anticipate what Opus Atlantica were going to sound like by the presence of the band?s bassist and drummer -- they being Flower Kings/ex-Flower Kings members Jonas Reingold and Jaime Salazar, respectively -- you?d likely be quite surprised. In fact, if these two names meant nothing to you, listening to this quartet's debut, The Flower Kings would never enter your mind at all. Of course, that depends on your familiarity with the duo. If you knew they were members of Midnight Sun, then this release wouldn't surprise you, especially as one-time Midnight Sun vocalist Pete Sandberg is also here. Guitarist Johan Reinholdz, who many may know from Andromeda and NonExist, rounds out the quartet. Guests: Stefan Ingelstrand and Inger Ohlén on backing vocals, Robert Engstrand on keyboards and Johan Glössner on acoustic guitar. (By the way, this and Midnight Sun aren't the only teaming of Sandberg and Reingold, as the two paired up for an album under the moniker Sand & Gold, releasing the album Remember My Name in 1997.)

OA are another in a large group of classically influenced progressive power metal bands. The music they create on their self-title debut is good and appealing, if not particularly unique. It's epic music full of catchy rhythms, wild guitar solos, and memorable choruses. Which isn't an indictment against the band; I've nothing against music that gets caught in my head. It's straight-forward? well, straight-forward relative to its genre. There more going on than your average 4/4 pop song, obviously. Sandberg has a mid-range voice, easy on the ears, not too screechy, and never growly - well suited to the music but also to comparatively lighter fair of melodic metal. It's those backing vocals that add to the classic/classical sound. Actually, it sits on the edge between power melodic metal and classical influenced metal. Reingold?s bass is prominent in the mix, throbbing ? thudding, really ? along. He may be happy in that role, leaving all the more textured and dynamic work for his main (?) gig - TFK. Reinholdz is an amazing guitarist, sharing shredding leads everywhere. And what epic power metal of this sort would be complete without keyboards (she said rhetorically)? All over a classical framework, as you might expect (my having said it already, if for no other reason).

Whereas most of the material here falls in to the description above, the band are heaviest on "Holy Graal" where they shift things into a speedier, roller-coaster-like gear - though it runs neck n' neck with "Falling Angel" (a track that reminds me a bit of Royal Hunt). Here there is a touch of the baroque in the keyboard elements that come to the fore during the choruses? a reedy, tinny sound that? Okay, it made me think of the music used in Disney's Electrical Parade? sorry. "Prince Of Darkness" is the power ballad on the album - epic, romantic tones on a piece that has nothing to do with romantic love. In fact, the subtext to most of the songs have a religious underpinning? not preachy at all and not direct, all with an old world cast. Some of song titles along give you a clue to biblical references or influences - "Judas Call," "Holy Graal," "Falling Angel," "Sleep With The Devil."

"Anthem Cello Suite In G Major" is a power instrumental where staccato phrases -- guitar or keyboards; I'm leaning to the latter -- are quite close to a cello here (as is the intent) ? an illustration of one being fleet fingered regardless of which instrument is being played. Breathy keyboards and voices mingle to open the track with an angelic presence ? before Salazar's drums come crashing in and send the track into ? orbit. Oh, Reinholdz definitely solos here, though, unmistakably in throaty, tightly constricted notes? sharp little daggers of sound. As present throughout, Reingold's bass thunders along, riding along with the main instrument. It's a Reingold arrangement of a Bach piece? and one that will leave you breathless.

"Sleep With The Devil" is the track with the most "single" potential, being the catchiest of the catchiest, if radio were playing heavy melodic metal of this sort. There are a few hints here of Europe, and a certain keyboard phrase brought "Final Countdown" to mind. It's a little prog-metalier, a little chunkier than 80s heavy melodic metal of the sort we heard from Europe, but those epic, spacey keyboard phrases are here, while Salazar's drums rumble underneath.

Opus Atlantica is very good, and given the individuals involved, quite a bit more than just average, but it's hardly the stuff that will have many speaking of the band in hyperbolic tones. There enough here that it won't wear out its welcome or become annoying, and is recommended for fans of this style.

Line Of Fire / Judas Call / Holy Graal / Prince Of Darkness / Anthem Cello Suite In G Major / Falling Angel / Endless Slaughter / Sleep With The Devil / Edge Of The World

Pete Sandberg - vocals
Johan Reinholdz - guitars
Jonas Reingold - bass, keyboards, programming
Jaime Salazar - drums

Robert Engstrand - keyboards
Johan Gl?ssner - acoustic guitar
Stefan Ingelstrand - backing vocals
Inger Ohl?n - backing vocals

Opus Atlantica (2002/2003)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin SE

Added: October 16th 2004
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.petesandburg.rules.it
Hits: 974
Language: english


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