March 22, 2021

The nerd in me thinks how do you file this one, is it under Heart Healer or as Magnus Karlsson? So to avoid any confusion, the name of this new project is Heart Healer with the album being called The Metal Opera by Magnus Karlsson; something of a strange title but there you are! I’m assuming that we all know the mighty Swedish guitarist, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Magnus Karlsson and his immense love of all things power and symphonic metal and the grander and more epic the project the better? Heart Healer is another new project for Karlsson and you know that when he is involved then something grand and on a huge scale is going to happen. Of course, rock operas are nothing new but if there is any genre that is suited for the opera makeover then it simply has to be symphonic metal and if there are female vocals involved then so much better as there is nothing like a soaring soprano voice to bring symphonic rock alive. However, this is Magnus Karlsson and one vocalist is not enough of him so this new work features no less than seven, yes that’s seven, wonderful singers to act the parts of the characters portrayed in the story line.

Photo by Andreas Svegland

Some of them you will definitely know and some maybe not but all have that power, range and special star quality that enables them to stand out. So, he has brought in Adrienne Cowan, Netta Laurenne, Youmna Jreissati, Ailyn Gimenez, Noora Louhimo, Margarita Monet and Anette Olzon and what a simply wonderful job they all do on this extravagant and most epic of albums. It seems that Karlsson has been working towards this epic work over his career as he has always wanted to produce a panoramic and all encompassing orchestral metal work of art as he sees it as a genre without limits or walls and therefore the perfect vehicle for his symphonic talents.

The opera concerns the Heart Healer, a character with no memory but an ability to heal people just by the simple expedient of the laying on of hands but there is a catch in that every time she heals then she herself gets weaker. As she makes her journey to discover who she then she meets a variety of people who either want to help her or are afraid of her special talents and want to hurt her which is very much the way of the world we live in. The singing and combination of the different voices is superb with the seven singers all bringing something different to the album yet they all interact so perfectly and they blend together with a sublime synchronicity. Working in unison with these voices of angels is the band or more precisely the incredible talents of Karlsson on guitar, bass and keyboards and his work is simple exquisite. We all know that he is a prodigious and skilled talent as a heavy rock guitarist with real power and flair to match but he must also be praised for his deft bass work and keyboard skills too. He is backed by the hard working drums of Anders Köllerfors, a much in demand session musician and you can also check out his skill set on the new Allen/Olzon album and well as the latest release from Starbreaker, the rather fine Tony Harnell/Magnus Karlsson band.

Adding to the huge orchestral flavour of the work is the strings pairing of Daniel Tengberg on cello and Erika Sävström Engman on violin and the combination of strings and amplified instruments is impeccable. Female vocal driven Symphonic metal is an ever growing genre and Magnus Karlsson has added a new name to the talent list of essential bands with this epic and grandiose work that sits comfortably alongside the works of Nightwish, Within Temptation and Epica etc.

An excellent story delivered to perfection with a great score and a plethora of sublime vocal performances, one to truly enjoy and savour.

The Metal Opera by Magnus Karlsson track list

  1. Awake (ft Adrienne Cowan) (7:41)
  2. Come Out Of The Shadows (ft Youmna Jreissati, Margarita Monet, Netta Laurenne) (6:05)
  3. Who Can Stand All Alone (ft Adrienne Cowan, Anette Olzon) (5:59)
  4. Back To Life (ft Margarita Monet, Ailyn, Adrienne Cowan) (5:37)
  5. Into The Unknown (ft Noora Louhimo) (7:21)
  6. When The Fire Burns Out ft. Ailyn, Netta Laurenne (5:14)
  7. Evil’s Around The Corner (ft Noora Louhimo, Adrienne Cowan) (5:19)
  8. Mesmerized (ft Anette Olzon) (5:17)
  9. Weaker (ft Adrienne Cowan) (6:40)
  10. This Is Not The End (ft Adrienne Cowan, Ailyn, Youmna Jreissati, Netta Laurenne, Noora Louhimo, Margarita Monet, Anette Olzon) (6:35)

Magnus Karlsson – guitars, bass, keyboards
Anders Köllerfors – drums
Daniel Tengberg – cello
Erika Sävström Engman – violin

Adrienne Cowan (Seven Spires, Masters of Ceremony).
Ailyn Gimenez (Her Chariot Awaits, ex-Sirenia).
Youmna Jreissati (Ostura).
Netta Laurenne (Smackbound).
Noora Louhimo (Battle Beast).
Margarita Monet (Edge of Paradise).
Anette Olzon (Dark Element, Ex-Nightwish)