Palacios, Alberto - We are the opera 3.5/5
1. The overture
2. Part 1: We are the opera
3. Part 2: I want to know
4. Part 3: We are the opera – reprise
5. Part 4: No one can see
6. Part 5: The kidnapping
7. Part 6: The tragic denouement
8. The finale
‘We are the opera’ is the sort of title that could suggest a large scale, Aina-type project bursting at the seams with guest musicians, so it may come as a surprise that this ambitious progressive/power metal debut CD is largely the work of one man.
All the vocals, guitars and drum programming are handled by Alberto Palacios himself, with only the often mesmerising keyboard provided by a guest musician called novaXire. Palacios proves to have a more than a fair amount of talent in each department; the guitar work is obviously his strongest card, but the bass has many a moment of prominence throughout and the drum tracks are fully involved in the songs and not left as a mere afterthought. In this sense there’s a bit of modesty in handing over the keyboards to a more capable musician rather than half-assing it himself, and the intricate interplay between the lead instruments is probably the most arresting aspect of the CD as a whole.
Metal bands trying their hands at writing ‘operas’ is nothing new or rare of course, but it makes nice change to see that, for the small scale of the project, Palacios has gone to some lengths to actually incorporate some of the elements of what actually makes up an opera rather than just writing a concept CD with a couple of interludes scattered about the place.
Recurring motifs appear throughout the 8 tracks, with the majestic main theme to the title song in particular popping up all over the place in a variety of forms. Similarly, the intro track “The overture” is just that – a proper overture serving as a prelude to many of the melodies that are to follow throughout.
On the progressive/power metal scale, the music by and large slides to the ‘power’ side of things, with the tracks generally very compact and song-oriented. On those with the least syncopation and tempo switching, Palacios’ soft, melodic vocal work even calls to mind the basics of Andre Matos-era Angra to some extent.
For its short running time of 41 minutes there is a surprising amount of diversity packed into the CD though, with some songs carrying on mostly in a more power metal style but laden with dazzling instrumental breaks. There are softer moments too, but for the most part uptempo power metal galloping rules the roost. It’s only on “The kidnapping” – unsurprisingly the longest song here – that the wonky rhythms and dizzying guitar-keyboard entanglements fully take hold and it is the closest to a full-blown prog metal song to be found.
If there is a sticking point – other than that the CD is maybe just one more song short of being fully satisfying – it is that Palacios’ vocals, while tuneful and emotive, maybe don’t have the power and range that could have elevated the project up another level.
The fact that there are only 2 characters in the story means that it’s not of serious detriment to the opera style, and to his credit Palacios does try to give each a distinct voice, but that fact that sometimes his singing is just a hushed whisper for one of his creations does lessen the impact a little, even though the soaring emotional vocals he normally provides are perfectly serviceable.
Nevertheless, ‘We are the opera’ is a confident, ambitious, but not over-reaching debut from a talented young musician with a big imagination. A more rounded band with maybe some more variety in the vocal department wouldn’t go amiss, but there isn’t a lot to complain about here.
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