NEOPERA - Destined Ways
Symphonic Metal
12 songs (54:00)
Release year: 2014
Reviewed by Joel
Surprise of the month

When it comes to debut albums/discs, have you ever listened to one, that you just can't believe this is the first disc this band/singer/artist has ever released to the public? Or the first time you heard a band, you were totally floored and is awe of what you were listening too? Within the realms of metal, there are a few for me, that will always be at the top of that list. Hammerfall's, Glory To The Brave is one, Sonata Arctica's, Ecliptica is another. While I can't say that Neopera's debut disc Destined Ways will be a classic like the two mentioned, it is definitely an amazing disc, whether it being the debut it is, or not. Featuring a three headed hydra(for some reason, I always wanted to use that word in a metal review!) vocal attack, the lovely Nina Jiers(Soprano/Operatic vocals), Mirko Gluschke(Shouts/Growls/Screams), and Thorsten Schuck(Bartione/male clean vocals), make up the wall of vocals. Jiers vocals are what you would expect from symphonic metal, though she does have an original tone in her voice, and full command of her entire vocal range. Glushke's vocals range from guttural to screaming to an almost Robb Flynn(Machine Head), like yell. The vocals that threw me off(a pleasant surprise), was Schuck's vocals. It is very rare within the realms of metal, do you get a classically trained baritone behind walls of guitars. Not since earlier Therion or Australia's Virgin Black(Requiem-Mezzo Forte disc), have I heard such powerful vocals of this style.

The Marvel Of Chimera opens up the disc, and does not take long before all three vocalists are heard. Weaving between growls, and both operatic vocals are seamless. and not jarring at all. Check out the lyric video for the song at the link at the bottom of the review. Schuck's vocals open A Call To Arms, before joined by Jiers vocals. This is a very melodic, almost cinematic, mid-paced song. Remote is a much faster song, and I really like the guitars for two reason, reason one: is some very solid riff, and reason two, for this genre, it is nice to hear the guitars over all the strings. This song features Glushke's vocals on lead, while the other two more or less accent the growls/screams while in unison. The Robb Flynn comparison, comes in here, I don't know why I say him, except for that is what I imagine when I hear the vocals. If your looking for something heavier, and even along the lines of Epica, this would be a great track to start with. The title track carries the heaviness from the last track over. This song focuses on the operatic vocals than the growls of the last. Falling Water is Jiers's song, and it is absolutely one of the most beautiful songs I have heard all year long(right up there, with Epica's, Canvas Of Life). This is a song to listen to listen to, and honestly there is not much to describe, other than Jier's gorgeous vocals. After the somberness of the song before it, The Greed is next. There is clean guitar arpeggio riff in the beginning, that sounds almost progressive to me. It definitely is a change of pace before the symphonic elements return. The death vocals on this song, are my preferred style for Glushke, versus the screamy almost-thrash style. Like a few songs before it, the verse interplay between Jiers and Schuck is absolutely well done.

The bombastic and epic beginning of Error, the stop and go heavy riffing and the string flourishes would make you think this is one of the heavier songs on the disc. It is actually a big melodic song with an almost march like feel to the earlier verses, while the chorus is more straight forward with the drummer accenting the backbeat to give it a more aggressive feel. Last Pantomime is to Schuck, what Falling Water was to Jiers. Another piano song, accenting his strong baritone range. I really like the symphonic arrangement to the song, and how the song does get heavier mid way through. The guitar solo on this song is also well played, and I wish there was more throughout the entire disc. Equilibria is another heavier song, while the cinematic and operatic Requiem at just under two minutes really grabs your attention. Song of Revenge is a three minute piece written for Glushke's aggressive vocal style. Other than a few operatic flourishes here and there, this song does not sound like anything else on the disc. Not my favorite song, but it is far from bad, and I really think the guitar playing is well done. The song has probably my favorite heavier guitar riff throughout the whole disc(the verse riff). The Unspeakable is a big melodic song, that showcases a beautiful harmony between Jiers and Schuck.

For a debut, one can only hope that Neopera can top this. I will not say it is perfect, but is one of the biggest surprises all year for me. After reading about three vocalists, I hope no one thinks they are listening to an Amaranthe clone. Neopera are definitely closer to say Therion with a mix of Epica, than to Amaranthe. No pop sensibilities or electronic instruments(keyboards used for symphonic purposes here) here. Even with comparisons to the mentioned bands, I believe Neopera offer the listener something different within the symphonic metal genre. While three vocalists are not something new, in the way they are done and how they flow seamlessly give Neopera a reason to shine. The musicianship also does deserve notice, the guitarists don't play simple power chord riffs that get drowned out by layers of keyboards. Going back to my first sentence of this review, I do believe this is a debut disc, I will never forget, due in fact, I have never listened to anything like it before.

Please check out the entire disc, thanks to the band and Spotify here at their website.
Killing Songs :
Joel quoted 89 / 100
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