In Solitude - Opus:Universe

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Recital Records
Catalog Number: Box 007
Format: CD
Total Time: 55:15:00

Here's an interesting observation: Portuguese band Forgotten Suns, whom I reviewed last week, released a concept album concerning the formation of the universe. Portuguese band In Solitude, whom I review right here, have released a concept album concerning the formation of the universe, Opus: Universe. Where Forgotten Suns took their musical influence from Marillion and the more melodic progressive metal bands, In Solitude seem to take their influence exclusively from progressive metal bands - it took me a while to place their sound, but I think they most sound like Shadow Gallery. There are a few moments where vocalist Sergio Martins sounds like James Hetfield, but with the vocal harmonies the band employ, it is Shadow Gallery that come to mind. Other bands that came to mind were Angra, Iced Earth, Nevermore, Dream Theater, Angel essentially one can that is highly melodic prog metal. I won't draw comparisons to their presentation of the theme, except to say that In Solitude do more through lyrics than Forgotten Suns - in fact, there is only one instrumental track on Opus: Universe and that is the brief opening piece "Awakening." Oh, and these bands are on different labels, as Opus comes to us by way of Recital.

The music itself is quite interesting and varied; there are terrific passages through out - a guitar solo here (Paulo Camisa), a drum pattern there (Augusto Peixoto), etc. In fact, off the cuff, the only complaint I have is that the lyrics are hard to read against the colorful and textured backgrounds - stars, nebula clouds, illuminated dust clouds, etc. And with such a small type and a fanciful font, the challenge is even greater. Why this is frustrating is that these are extremely intelligently written lyrics - I've not checked the science behind them, but they sound convincing. The lyrics are peppered with words not usually appearing in music lyrics, never mind prog metal lyrics: quarks, galaxy clusters, proto stars - sounds more like the late Carl Sagan. Usually stars either signify a yearning or some romantic notion, here they have a more literal and yet larger significance. If it weren't for a particular star in our universe, we might not be here. Am I surprised that there are such "learned" lyrics? Not at all, especially if the science is right. But this takes some rather dry ideas - the big bang, expanding universe, star formation, super nova, black holes, planet formation, etc. and makes it as exciting and epic as the quest for the magical sword from the more fantastical progressive bands.

The other difference between In Solitude's approach and Forgotten Suns' approach is that the latter moves from the vastness of the universe at the beginning to the microcosm of a young man. In Solitude barely broach the subject of humans and our impact on the universe - this is the universe's story from beginning ("Alpha Event") to end ("Omega Event"), humans are but a speck of dust in the vast universe.

If lyrics mean nothing to you, then I need only tell you that this is muscular, melodic progressive metal, that is a just a teensy bit too dense - everything seems close in, and very, very tight. There are points where the guitar lets loose with beautiful, sharp solos - and elsewhere, in concert with the bass (Eduardo Borgas) and percussion they provide just the right amount of crunch; the keys (Lisa Amaral) are mixed just right, audible without being dominating. In any follow up release, they might want to loosen just a bit. It isn't all this way, as during the more balladic "Beyond" we get a spacey keyboard backing with piano tinkling, before the guitar comes in. This mid-tempo, as is characteristic of ballads.

If you are a lyrics person like me, this is rich, as the curious will be tempted to investigate the science behind them.

So, seek out this release by all means possible as this is surely one of the strongest releases this year; this is the band's section, as they released Eternal in 1998. Opus: Universe is solid stuff.

Awakening (1:39) / Alpha Event (4:23) / Stellar Phase (4:58) / In The Depths (5:30) / Journey Through The Black Hole a) Legacy Of A Dying Star (5:13) b) Near The Event Horizon (5:34) c) Beyond (4:37) / Empire Of Eternities (4:13) / Gravity's Triumph (3:35) / Requiem For The Stars (3:43) / Entropy (4:31) / The Decay (4:18) / Omega Event (5:41)

Sergio Martins - vocals
Paulo Camisa - guitar
Eduardo Borgas - bass
Augusto Peixoto - drums
Lisa Amaral - keyboards

Reflections (1996) (demo tape)
Eternal (1998) (promo tape)
Eternal (1998)
Opus: Universe (2000)
Nethergod (2004)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin PT

Added: December 1st 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1499
Language: english


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