Some reviews are relatively easy to do whilst others less so, and this Canadian symphonic/power metal band definitely falls into the latter category. Hailing from Toronto in Canada and formed in 2005, Operus is a power metal band with a difference, being something of an amalgamation of symphonic metal and extravagant musical theatre a la Phantom Of The Opera. They are rather similar to the wonderful Trans-Siberian Orchestra but are certainly more power metal and they also incorporate all of the overblown excesses that Rhapsody/Rhapsody Of Fire glory in. In truth, the term over the top simply understates the grandness of the proceedings, and it is so over the top that you feel they would actually need a ladder to scale the heights that they have aimed for! So, to simplify it, Operus is a symphonic metal band with huge influences from classical music and musical theatre and they play with style, finesse and great skill. The six members of the band all come from diverse musical backgrounds which include metal bands, symphonic and chamber orchestras and musical theatre so it is no real surprise that they have combined all of these influences into the heady and glorious vehicle that is Operus.
The band is comprised of vocalist and theatre stalwart David Michael Moote, guitarists Dean Paul Arnold and Oscar Rangel, drummer J J Tartaglia, bassist Wojtek Sokolowski and cellist Robin Howe. They have all brought different musical elements to the band to make for a festival of metal that is epic, orchestral and simply off any musical scale you can imagine. This is technical metal at its best and most preposterous and, no doubt, will have critics queuing up to decry it as a monstrous marriage between genres that shouldn’t mix. The thing is, though, that they would be wrong as it works just so perfectly – and what you have here is magnificent symphonic metal on a huge scale with the operatic and musical theatre roots giving it such a depth and allowing it to follow the most unexpected of paths. The music is loud, heavy, haunting, moving, thrilling, melancholic, mysterious, rousing and melodic and then some!
The album is suffused with strong and complex songs that stir the blood whilst invoking images of Valkyries as huge choruses and amazing guitar solos scream out over thundering drums and bass with moving piano and cello giving a very effective contrast. David Michael Moote may not be your typical rock vocalist, with his delivery that was born on the theatre stage, but he has style, power and huge stage presence and is so perfect for the symphonic score. The one word that keeps coming to mind is ‘Epic’ and there is so much happening throughout the album that you keep hearing something new with each listen, such is the complexity of the work. This is the band’s second album following their debut release, Cenotaph, in 2017 and Score Of Nightmares is a logical follow on from it – and if you have the first album then you will know what to expect from the new one and will not be disappointed. If you love the excesses of symphonic metal, the regal nature of power metal and the sheer scale of the enthralling Trans-Siberian Orchestra then this will delight you. As a certain starship first officer might have paraphrased, ‘it’s rock Jim but not as we know it’!
Track List: Overture Of Madness (1:25), Phantasia (5:33), Lost (5:04), Dance With Fire (5:38), Echoes (1:40), Where Falcons Fly (4:37), Nightmares (5:32), Book Of Shadows (3:52), The Mirror (2:29), Ruin (5:35), La Llorona (7:33).