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Dorian Opera - Crusade 1212 CD (album) cover


Dorian Opera

Progressive Metal

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5 stars Three years after their very worthwhile debut album No secrets, German prog metal band Dorian Opera have returned with a masterpiece. Crusade 1212 is a fascinating concept album with a tragic opera-like storyline, inspired by the historical Children's crusade. The original four members are still there, augmented with a lead singer (Sven the Axe) and a female guest vocalist (Alexandra Goess). The music falls roughly in the Dream Theater meets Neo Prog range, with considerable instrumental virtuosity, but without noodling for noodling's sake. The extended instrumental passages are all fit for purpose, and in the best prog tradition.

Right from the atmospheric start with a short spoken recital of the subject matter over a great almost improvised instrumental background, this highly melodious, heavy rocking album keeps you spellbound. Metal riffs and hard rock sequences alternate with more soft spoken passages, but both are dominated by truly fantastic keyboards (Andrew Roussak) and gorgeous guitar work (Oliver Weislogel) - worthy of comparison with the greatest in the genre. Bass player Joe Eisenburger and drummer Harry Reischmann also take their opportunities to shine. Singer Sven the Axe's high-pitched voice is very suited for this repertoire, with an occasional vibrato that reminded me of early Uriah Heep (one of my favourite bands). Appropriately for a guest vocalist, Alexandra Goess gets fewer lines, providing background vocals mostly, but she takes her chance where she is given it, in particular in the beautiful track Two hearts. Excellent voice.

If there is one thing that bugged me about their debut, it was the recording quality. Well, no complaints in that respect for the new release. Great sound, great balance between the various instruments and the singing. The cover is once more excellent, the booklet with all lyrics in gothic font is informative, even if it takes a while to get used to reading it.

There is not much point in going into detail song by song - this is after all a concept album that should be heard in its entirety. And it really should be heard - it is absolutely brilliant!

Report this review (#428309)
Posted Wednesday, April 6, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Crusade 1212' - Dorian Opera (7/10)

The idea of concept albums and 'rock operas' have run in tandem with progressive music virtually since its beginning. In more recent times, this tradition has been upheld by Ayreon, who added the tinge of metal to the formula. Dorian Opera follows this same idea, using the progressive metal sound to tell a story. 'Crusade 1212' is this band's second album, and while Dorian Opera have not yet broken through to the mainstay of the progressive fanbase, they have a sound that will find wide appeal within prog metal.

Telling the sad story of the Children's Crusade, 'Crusade 1212' is a concept album in the legacy of Ayreon, despite the fact that there are only two vocalists at the helm. For those who don't know, The Children's Crusade is a fabled event in which 30,000 children marched in the hopes of finding a peaceful resolution to the crusades, only to be sold into slavery. The music is bombastic and heavy on proggy moments; a mixture between melodic power metal, and the technical wizardry of a band like Dream Theater. While the influences of this band are as clear as filtered water, Dorian Opera's sound is often very exciting. Vocalists Sven The Axe and Patricia Cooney offer great performances, with the latter possessing a particularly gorgeous voice. More often than not, they are backed up by a thick power metal sound geared most towards the 'epic' and 'theatrical' sound in metal. Dorian Opera hits their stride when they get instrumental however; the vocals are as strong as any found in the genre, but when the band sheds their vocals, it results in an extravaganza of proggy goodness. These technical passages take a leaf from Dream Theater or Symphony X, throwing a dash of the neoclassical style, to give 'Crusade 1212' a more authentic feel. For the sake of composition, this is an excellent example of good progressive power metal,

As far as execution of this music goes, Dorian Opera are a little less consistent. It is first very evident that the band is talented and professional with their music, but the way the music has been recorded and performed feels a little sloppy at times. An example is Oliver Weislogel's guitar work. He proves that he is a skilled guitarist, but some of the more demanding passages have noticeable errs that pull me out of the dream. Like Weislogel's guitar work, the vocals are also strong, but they are sometimes used in ways that do not sit well with me. The chorus of 'Harbour Of Marseilles' has nothing wrong with it in terms of melody, but the vocal harmonies sound a little off time with each other. It's these little things that rob Dorian Opera's 'Crusade 1212' of being really excellent. The band has plenty of skill and potential, and as the songwriting here goes to show, there is depth to their music. Despite these flaws in the execution, 'Crusade 1212' is a great album for its style.

Report this review (#584242)
Posted Wednesday, December 7, 2011 | Review Permalink

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