Progressive metal opera gets a new lease of life and a noble cause to serve.
Back in 2006, when Giancarlo Trotta and Luca Contegiacomo came up with this concept – a marriage of heaviness and symphonic uplift illustrating a path to enlightenment via acceptance of reality as illusion – its reach was parochial; ten years on, there’s a global expanse to it with English lyrics replacing Italian and the album’s title having become a name of an association for autistic children. As all the profits from the record’s sales benefit such a great cause, the story’s span and weight seem even more impressive now, even though hard rock’s presence on many an epic, where riffs come not so much from guitars as from the orchestra and the writers’ ivories, appears to be nominal.
From “Heroes” on, the focus is on a chivalrous message, voiced on the new version by Russell Allen and Amanda Somerville with a lot of nuance – so romantic in “Moon Peace” – and narrated by Clive Riche, while Marco Sfogli’s six strings chisel baroque chorale and Apennine pop emotionality aiming at additional sharpness. Still, it’s these original, local elements that elevate the likes of “Crystalize” and “Desertsoul” from the commonplace operatic prog and power metal that meet in the “Fortis” to a glorious effect. “I’d Like” unfolding into an inspired duet of and “Never Again” into a dramatic dialogue, the reserve of Randy Coven’s bass and John Macaluso’s drums amplify heartbreak and hope which may be the core feelings in the realm of autism. Here’s heroism of a different kind: open your heart to its light.