Oratory - Illusion Dimensions

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Limb Music Products
Catalog Number: LMB 0009-021
Format: CD
Total Time: 55:52:00

Whilst Portugal will always be associated with the likes of fado where music is concerned, I was rather pleased to find the country now also has its own "neo classic melodic power metal" band, as Oratory call themselves. This six-piece band has thought carefully about how to reach the maximum originality. They have done this by adding some guest appearances from friends, but also by using not one but two voices: one male and one female. This vocal interaction adds to the originality.

"With Glory And Melody" to me is like "early Judas Priest meets Rhapsody." Neither vocalist have stereotypical voices, which is a nice touch. Of course it would be nice to hear real strings here, but we have to do with some cheap sounds out of Antonio Silva's keyboards (I would like to suggest he invest in some better equipment!). Contrary to "normal" prog metal bands, the keyboards do play an important role here, as indeed the band wants to be named in the same breath as Stratovarius and Ancient Rites. "Fight For The Light" has a strong chorus and I can already hear the crowd going wild during this one when performed live!

Oratory has a strong sense of melody and the ability to write catchy hooks, which is a thing very few bands know how to use to their advantage. Again in "Metal Messenger" the chorus is very powerful, blending together nicely with the rest of the music. By adding real violin, "In The Sky" almost becomes a mini-opera. Also, singer Marco Alves switches to a somewhat more theatrical way of singing, better suiting this song. Though perhaps his pronunciation of English could be done better. It certainly can be done a lot better by the narrator on "Life In Another Star." The use of a male and female vocalist takes away the need to include guitar pyrotechnics all over the album. Guitar solos are nicely balanced so you don't get an album filled with technical showpieces.

The female touch of Ana Lara (the Portuguese Sharon den Adel?) obviously makes you think of bands such as Within Temptation and After Forever yet the pure symphonic keyboard arrangements have been replaced by sparse interventions so that the guitars can really shine in all their glory. Instead, keyboard player Antonio Silva is allowed to include some synth solos, yet, as already stated, the sound of his keyboards certainly can be improved. Producer Luis Barros should have given this guy the opportunity to use other sounds in the studio. I mean, every studio has enough samples to make the world go round and if they don't have any, they can always download some sounds through the Internet there and then (or has the Internet not yet arrived in Portugal?) [he wrote, somewhat cheekily, I hope - ed.]

The baroque influences are clearly illustrated in the short instrumental closing section of this album, in the track "Galaxy." And if this is the way the band wants to continue then I can only advise them to either look for a real orchestra (I know, it's expensive, but I'm convinced sales will be ten times higher once they're able to fully compete with Stratovarius and Rhapsody!) or more effort should be made in tracking down the right samples so as to get as close as possible to the sound of a real symphonic orchestra. The music certainly deserves a professional arrangement and this certainly is one of the must haves. My copy of the album also holds a "hidden" track, that being "Oratory" from the band's debut EP Last Prophecy.

Illusion - Dimensions certainly has been an eye-opener for me with both strong compositions and strong musicianship. To top it all, the vocals are the icing on the cake, yet I would like to suggest an even bigger collaboration with Ana Lara in future. If the world's media starts praising this band, then who knows, in a few years time we might be speaking of the "Mediterranean school of prog metal" Well done!

[Read also Steph's review; that both make nearly the same concluding comment is pure coincidence. -ed]

Illusion Dimensions (1:19) / With Glory And Melody (6:10) / Fight For The Light (4:03) / Kingdom:s Legacy (5:33) / Metal Messenger (4:21) / In The Sky (5:11) / Last Prophecy (0:16) / Life In Another Star (4:47) / Rising Land (4:37) / Choose Your Future (5:15) / World Of Illusion (5:25) / Galaxy (1:49) / Bonus: Oratory (8:59)

Ana Lara - vocals
Marco Alves - vocals
Miguel Gomes - guitars
Rui Santos - bass
Joao Rodrigues - drums
Antonio Silva - keyboards

Enchantation (1996)
Sarcastic Soul (1997)
Last Prophecy (ep) (1999)
Illusion - Dimensions (2000)
Beyond Earth (2002)
Interludium (ep) (2005)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin PT

Added: September 1st 2000
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.oratory-band.net
Hits: 1150
Language: english


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