November 3, 2022

Symphonity is a power metal band from the Czech Republic which has been around since 1994 originally known as Otter before changing the name to Nemesis – the moniker they released the album Goddess Of Revenge in 2003 and then another change saw the band become Symphonity in 2006. They released Voice Of The Silence in 2008 and then the epic King Of Persia in 2016 which now seems like the practise run for the new album, Marco Polo, which is a huge, monstrous, crazy and totally off the scale power metal opera.

It is strange that it is progressive rock that seems to attract all of the criticisms for themes and lyrics featuring wizards, capes and fantasy elements but when it comes to operatic, symphonic metal them power metal bands are allowed (maybe it’s the law?) to throw the rule book out of the window and produce works that are so far over the top that they come back and go over the top again and this time with the kitchen sink in tow! Restraint and modesty are words rarely used in reference to power and symphonic metal and, in truth, isn’t this why we all welcome the genre as, just for a moment, we can escape our humdrum lives and live a fantasy life where the heroes are strong and good, the maidens beautiful and powerful and the darks ones always vanquished with everything told with the backing of cataclysmic guitars, melodic keyboards and drums and bass that is off the Richter Scale.

For their latest album from Symphonity tells the bold, tall tales of Marco Polo and his journeys which we all were told as youngsters but never as crazily as this. Indeed, the musicians really ought to take a bow for their audacity, skillset and sheer devil-may-care attitude in producing a work so grandiose and epic. Konstantin Naumenko and Mayo Petranin supply lead and backing vocals that thrill to the core with superb backing from Libor Křivák on guitar and keyboards, Tomáš Sklenář on bass, Josef Cigánek on drums and Johannes Frykholm with additional keyboards and keyboard solos. There is also a thrilling cameo from the mezzo-soprano Jana Hrochová with a stunning but all too short vocal on the opening and closing Venezia giving something of a Nightwish touch to the proceedings. In best Rick Wakeman tradition each track features a spoken and most dramatic (verging on over acted) introduction that details the story so far with the band bringing the tale to full-blown power metal life.

The music is loud, heavy and melodic and in keeping with bands like Rhapsody, Blind Guardian, Therion and Stratovarius so it is fast and furious but all with a level of control which keeps it clever and pertinent and prevents it descending into parody. There are neat touches throughout especially when the band incorporates eastern or exotic harmonies and sounds associated with the countries through which Marco Polo journeys which help to give the music a real gravitas. It’s rather short for such an epic work being just 42-minutes but the CD comes with three bonus tracks being orchestral versions of Mongols, Dreaming Of Home and I Found My Way Back Home for a further 19-minutes of wonderment but these were not made available for review so no comment can be made and you will have to buy the CD but remember that they will not be on the download version at all.

That small gripe apart, this is an excellent metal opera that some may find a little too much but that would mean missing out on the fun and if you just lower your good taste filters then you will have a great time with this most ambitious of albums.

Marco Polo: The Metal Soundtrack

  1. Pt. 1: Venezia (2:21)
  2. Pt. 2: Crimson Silk (6:00)
  3. Pt. 3: The Plague (5:14)
  4. Pt. 4: Love Theme (1:28)
  5. Pt. 5: Mongols (10:23)
  6. Pt. 6: Dreaming of Home (5:34)
  7. Pt. 7: I Found My Way Back Home (4:53)
  8. Pt. 8: Prisoner (4:19)
  9. Pt. 9: Venezia Finale (1:35)