Aina - Days Of Rising Doom - The Metal Opera
Transmission Records
Operatic / Melodic Power Metal
Disc 1: 15 songs (68'09) Disc 2: 9 songs (61'25)
Release year: 2004
Aina, Transmission Records
Reviewed by Marty
Album of the month
This long awaited new metal opera is the mastermind of Amanda Somerville, who wrote the story and most of the lyrics, as well as producer/guitarist Sasha Peth (Heaven's Gate, Rhapsody, Mob Rules), producer/songwriter Miro and Robert Hunecke-Rizzo who, as well as co-producing this epic, plays most of the guitars, drums and bass. Aina is based on quite a complex story that is told as a narrative track on the second bonus disc of this limited edition set. The story evolves around two brothers, one heir to the throne to the kingdom of Aina and the other, jealous of his brother taking away the girl he wished to marry, fleeing, taking up with evil forces only to return to attack his former homeland and reclaim his bride. Unaware that his brother and his wife already had a baby girl, Oriana, he proceeds to imprison and savagely rape his brother's wife, Oria, with her eventually bearing him a son, Sirius. Many years later, Sirius, on his many travels, meets and falls in love with a mysterious girl that he is drawn to. Eventually, Sirius decides to again attack Aina and meets up with it's defending forces, now commanded by a princess guessed it...the girl he fell in love with. When they discover the truth about each other's identity as half siblings, Sirius refuses to attack and is struck down dead by his own father. In wrath at the death of her half-brother, Oriana attacks and kills all the followers of the father to her half-brother in revenge. It's quite the story and the way that it is presented is much along the same lines as the Avantasia metal opera with the same sort of melodic power metal music. This one though, is a little more on the operatic side with many characters within one song, lots of interludes and a flow that really doesn't allow any one song to be listened to without listening to the whole thing in it's entirety. Helping out vocally and instrumentally is an all-star line-up and a virtual who's who of musicians and singers. The line-up for this project is as follows:

Tobias Sammet (EDGUY, AVANTASIA)
Marko Hietala (NIGHTWISH, TAROT)
Michael Kiske (ex-HELLOWEEN, SUPARED)
Andre Matos (ex-ANGRA, SHAMAN)
Jens Johansson (STRATOVARIUS)
Thomas Rettke (ex-HEAVEN'S GATE)
Damian Wilson
Simone Simons (EPICA)
Emppu Vuorinen (NIGHTWISH)
Thomas Youngblood (KAMELOT)
Derek Sherinian (ex-DREAM THEATER)
Erik Norlander (LANA LANE)
Sass Jordan

With the impressive line-up of musicians and vocalists such as that, you would expect something special and something very special is exactly what you get. This is a wonderfully rich and orchestrated power metal epic that has lots of speedy heavy sections for the power metal fans, but also lots of reflective and richly orchestrated segments, many using the Trinity Boys choir. Several of these passages use Michael Kiske for the lead vocals and his rich melodic voice adds wonderful warmth to the tracks. Michael is also used for much of the narration as well. Tobias Sammet provides lead vocals for the track, Flight Of Torek which really comes off sounding like a classic Edguy or Avantasia track. For some of the slower and more bluesier sections, Glenn Hughes' voice adds the perfect touch. Former Heaven's Gate vocalist, Thomas Rettke is used quite a bit for some of the speedier, heavier and more aggressive tracks and once again, the perfect choice to add just the right atmosphere. Candice Night's sweet angelic voice graces a couple of tracks and Canada's Sass Jordan makes a brief appearance. Marco Hietala, Olaf Thayer, Damian Wilson, Simone Simons and Andre Matos also make sporadic appearances as their characters weave in and out of this incredible epic. Orchestration is used on the grand scale as well as on the small scale with the use of flutes and other woodwind instruments to accompany acoustic guitars to take the listener far away to a land from long ago.

Although the Ayreon projects first introduced the metal world to the concept of an actual metal opera, the Avantansia project set the bar quite high with the quality of material and solid all around performances by all those involved and will ultimately be the benchmark to which all other similar projects are compared. Aina is a wonderful epic, full of emotion and passion and not short on speedy and heavy melodic power metal. The orchestration, more prominent use of characters and a more of a true "opera" sound on Aina, make it more of an actual opera than Avantasia, which was essentially an operatic style with a story linked by the songs. Several listens are required in order for this album to sink in but it's a stunning, very visual story and an amazing musical interpretation. Already released in Japan, this epic will be available later in January or early February and will be available as a limited edition 3 CD set with the Aina metal opera taking up the first disc, alternate versions of tracks, some single edits and a narration of the entire story taking up the second CD with the third disc being a DVD that is a behind the scenes look at the making of Aina and a video for the song The Beast Within. Highly recommended to any and all fans of metal operas and although it's still early to tell and may require more listens, this has the makings of a classic in the genre much like some of the Ayreon projects and Avantasia. Welcome to the world of your mind and let the journey begin......

Killing Songs :
Silver Maiden, Flight Of Torek, Naschtok Is Born, The Beast Within, The Siege Of Aina, Rebellion and Oriana's Wrath
Marty quoted 90 / 100
Alex quoted 74 / 100
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