Aina - The Metal Opera - Days Of Rising Doom review
|Album:||The Metal Opera - Days Of Rising Doom|
|Release date:||December 2003|
01. Aina Overture
03. Silver Maiden
04. Flight Of Torek
05. Naschtok Is Born
06. The Beast Within
07. The Siege Of Aina
08. Talon's Last Hope
09. Rape Of Oria
10. Son Of Sorvahr
12. Lalae Amêr
14. Oriana's Wrath
Disc II [limited edition]
01. The Story Of Aina [instrumental version]
02. The Beast Within [single version]
03. Ve Toúra Sol -Rape Of Oria- [ainae version]
04. Flight Of Torek [single version]
05. Silver Maiden [alternate version]
06. Talon's Last Hope [demo]
07. The Siege Of Aina [single version]
08. The Story Of Aina
Disc III [limited edition - DVD]
01. The Beast Within [video]
+ The Making Of Aina
+ The Story Of Aina
+ Slide Show
Tobias Sammet's Avantasia project proved two things. Number one, a metal opera could be done and very well done, number two it apparently sells well. Since then, metal operas have flourished throughout Europe like mushrooms. Even Arjen Lucassen's projects came back into fashion, especially Ayreon. On this not so positive note in terms of money matter, the famous German guitar player-producer-visionary Sascha Paeth [ex-Heaven's Gate, one of Europe's top producers since the 90s] decided to try. Actually, he was mandated by the label boss of Transmission Records and, well, knowing lots of musicians, Sascha was an obvious pick! The result? In fact, if I started by underlining my suspicions concerning the genuine approach to the making of this record, that's because it's probably the only "major" flaw I can pinpoint.
The project originally began in 2002 and it was taken very seriously by the label. In fact, it's probably the biggest challenge ever for Transmission Records. Let's review the crew, Sascha Paeth produced and was in charge of the arrangements guitars and basses while the story and lyrics are from Amanda Somerville, who is also a singing coach for bands like Rhapsody and Epica. The multi-talented Robert Hunecke-Rizzo [mainly Heaven's Gate] played drums, guitars and basses while Miro was in charge of keyboards, orchestration and other effects. But of course, no metal opera without a load of famous guest musicians. On "Aina", the most noticeable are Jens Johansson [keyboards, ex-Malmsteen, Stratovarius], Emppu Vuorinen [guitars, Nightwish], Thomas Youngblood [guitars, Kamelot], Derek Sherinian [keyboards, ex-Dream Theater, Planet X] and Erik Norlander [keyboards, Lana Lane].
Amanda Somerville managed to pull out the main storyline in one night after being stuck for a while. After the core of the project [Robert, Amanda and Miro] started working together, things progressed fast. Once the songs were finalized but without the final vocalists, they had to pick singers and they did it really well, courtesy of Sascha Paeth. Lots of friends of Sascha are great singers such as Tobias Sammet [Edguy, Avantasia] and Andre Matos [ex-Angra, Shaman]. In fact, Sascha produced pretty much everything coming from theirs respective bands. No wonder! Also, legendary singer Glenn Hughes [Deep Purple, Black Sabbath] and Candice Night [Blackmore's Night], Michael Kiske [ex-Helloween, ex-Supared], Marco Hietala [Tarot, Nightwish], Olaf Hayer [Luca Turilli, Dionysos]… The list is almost endless!
The recording took place at the Gate studio in Wolfsburg, Germany for the largest part hence the production is huge, typical Power metal from Germany. Experienced engineering plus professional work equals terrific production, it's as easy as that.
This metal opera is a 2CDs plus 1DVD package, including a 60+ pages booklet that seems to be essential. Unfortunately, so far I only have the first CD, which is, after all, the main thing as CD2, "The Story Of Aina", is a compilation of single versions and some other related tracks and the DVD is photos, artwork, the making of plus a video clip. More on that, when I have a chance to get the full thing. Same thing about the story line, which appears to be somewhat complex but nonetheless interesting.
The first CD is entitled "Days Of Rising Doom" and is subdivided in 15 tracks. One of the first things that has to be said about "Aina" is that it isn't a pure Power Metal opera, which could be expected seeing the names of the people involved, but is a blend of several styles including Power, of course, but Progressive has a big part and overall the classical feeling that makes the opera is there and remain strong all along. It's not without remembering the number one reference for opera in that regard, though it was a rock opera, I'm talking about "Jesus Christ Superstar".
The overture appears to set the tone with a mix of classical, Power metal and Progressive metal. Nice, it seems like we're going to be on a pleasant ride with this record. But track 2, 'Revelations', doesn't displays a blind maelstrom of Power metal either. That's when my initial suspicions were blown away. It's a real project with genuine intentions, now no doubt about it! And it's beautiful. But don't get me wrong, some mainly Power anthems are featured. 'Flight Of Torek' with Tobias Sammet himself is one of them. 'The Beast Within' has been picked as the first single while 'The Siege Of Aina' would be the second single. Both excellent tracks, although the first single could be misleading because it doesn't represent the album very well. The ballads of the album are very well done, both 'Rape Of Oria' with Candice Night and 'Serendipity' with an impressive Michael Kiske. 'Lalae Amêr' is an interesting example of how to invent a language and then use it wisely without being ridiculous. It sounds like an exotic lullaby and it rocks. 'Rebellion' is the best track in my opinion, in which Glenn Hughes is displaying all of his singing abilities. We are miles away from what you could expect from a metal opera and at the same time it fits so perfectly into the album, that it is an essential song.
As the list shows, some of the singers on the Avantasia project are on "Aina" as well [Tobias Sammet, Andre Matos, Michael Kiske, Oliver Hartman] so comparisons with Sammet's project are going to flourish fast. Personally, I think "Aina" is going to appeal to a larger audience but I miss David DeFeis [Virgin Steele], who was present on Avantasia. I want to give special credits to Andre Matos, who is singing in a lower tone as he does with Shaman and did with Angra, and it's so awesome. But the star of the show is Glenn Hughes with his own particular way of singing that carries the soul of rock.
In a nutshell, every track is a big moment on "Aina" but not wanting to spoil the fun to discover more yourself, my advice is simple: if you're at all in Power metal and if you buy only one album this year, make it this one. It's full of surprises, atmospheres, powerful riffs, catchy melodies and mind blowing performances by a large panel of singers. Bow to Transmission Records! After such an album, a sequel to this majestic album should surface soon and a second part to the story has already been written by Amanda!
Favorite tracks: 'Rebellion', 'Naschtok Is Born' and 'Talon's Last Hope'
Written on 08.06.2004 by
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