about%20-%20jpg.jpg reviews%20-%20jpg.jpg interviews%20-%20jpg.jpg gigs%20-%20jpg.jpg cd_review_neopera_destinedways001006.jpg
Neopera's debut album has been a long time coming. The brainchild of Dark Age guitarist Jörn Schubert, he formed the band back in 2010, recruiting Gamma Ray bassist Dirk Schlächter, Counter-World Experience sticksman Thorsten Harnitz and a trio of stylistically varied vocal talent in Nina Jiers (soprano), Thorsten Schuck (baritone) and Mirko Gluschke (growls). So here we eventually have the inaugural offering from this new musical venture, 'Destined Ways'.

Crafting their sound within the overpopulated symphonic metal subgenre, just where do they stand amongst the plethora of other acts who've chosen such a sonic path? Well, Amberian Dawn have already set the sympho-metal bar ever so high earlier this year with the release of 'Magic Forest' but, that said, Neopera are a different beast entirely. Adopting a polyvocal approach that's been a defining trait of Therion's aesthetic for years, this German act have quite an emotively expansive soundscape within which they exercise their sympho-metal fusion. Being able to draw upon the soprano/baritone operatic voices of Jiers and Schuck, as well as the full-on metal growls of Gluschke, moods inherent in the instrumentations are both enhanced and engendered by each of the singers. However, the music isn't predominantly vocal-driven throughout as there are many passages where a seamless fusion of orchestral and metal elements drive the songs forward into instrumentally effectuated moods.

As suggested by the band's moniker, Schubert promised this to be "a new interpretation of a possible opera" and, with this aim, he's largely succeeded within the context of his compositions and their execution. For instance, while listening to the album, there's never a feeling that this is merely a set of metal tunes with an orchestra slapped on top. The compositions and their arrangements are well thought out in terms of how all the disparate elements can be combined to work best. And, on the whole, the twelve tracks on 'Destined Ways' work a treat. There are a few moments where tracks are sonically cluttered - and this is not a problem with the mix (the album's mix, and production, is generally great) - rather, I'm left with the impression that Schubert has sporadically decided to throw everything into the pot; too many ingredients, if you will. However, as I said, the album only lapses into 'clutter' on occasion so it's in no way a major problem.

On the whole, Neopera's debut record is very impressive indeed. If Schubert & co. can refine their art further and hold back a little on some of the compositions' cluttered histrionics, Neopera might just be able to forge the archetypal metal opera. That said, this first attempt is a mightily fine effort.
Review by Mark Holmes
25th August 2014
1) The Marvel of Chimera
2) A Call to Arms; 3) Remote
4) Destined Ways
5) Falling Water
6) The Greed
7) Error
8) Last Pantomime
9) Equilibria
10) Requiem
11) Song of Revenge
12) The Unspeakable
"...there's never a feeling that this is merely a set of metal tunes with an orchestra slapped on top."