Magni Animi Viri – Heroes Temporis

Magni Animi Viri – Heroes Temporis – 5/5

An album that’s quickly elevated its way to the top of list of albums to review, and one I came across when someone commented on the use of opera in metal. I was stumped as to many different bands, and so set out to explore as I knew there had to be some out there. Whilst I’m dubious as to whether it truly constitutes as metal, sounding more like a ‘Progressive Rock Opera’ to my ears, there is no question that this is nothing short of brilliant.

The brainchild of just two, one with a background in prog rock, the other a more classical background, both proficient composers and keyboard players the level of detail and thought that has gone into this masterpiece is unquestionable. Following the story of a man as he visits his past, the good times, the bad, the uplifting moments and the ones filled with sorrow, as he embarks and sets out on a life-changing voyage. The scope for variety in emotions this allows is immense, and the manner in which it is done gives it a theatrical presence, playing more like a work of musical theatre than anything else.

Often a band will have redundant members, those that contribute little to the sound. 6 piece bands and those of greater members tend to be the worst offenders, but somehow this bands entourage of more than 100 musicians is blended in such a way that any redundancy is far overshadowed by sheer numbers. They perform with the entire Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra (64 musicians, and a 32 piece choir) which are more than deserving of their praise. They aren’t used as an aside, just a bit of diversity, they are integral to the sound produced, the violin symphonies, choral chanting and the multitude of bassier wind instruments, combining to produce something truly magnificent – a true comparison to the likes of Vivaldi and mahler, the great classical composers, brought to light in a modern setting.

And in addition that is the work of the ex-riot drummer (NOT Jarzombek) who is more than proficient, a bassist that whilst simplistic in his patterns adds creatively to the music without dominating, and quite possibly an unsung living guitar legend, Marco Sfogli. Whilst he has few points to shine, shine he does, succeeding in being both quick and incredibly fluid in his legato and sweeping techniques, more than that he is able to play with incredible melody, creatively placing emphasis on the right notes. In fact, here’s an example from his solo work.

And even that doesn’t complete the line-up, as there are two lead vocalists with a hefty presence on this album. The first is a female vocalist, who performs with style, emotion with a good vocal range but perhaps feels lacking in this all-star performance, up amongst the best of the nightwish clones, and easily overshadowed by the male vocalist. This man absolutely dominates this album, not just “operatically influenced” but an opera singer, more akin to singing reworks of Madame Butterfly or Don Giovanni, he delivers a vocal master class time and time again.

Every component is worked such as a classical symphony, rarely will one element become overly prominent, instead all forming together for an atmosphere, a tone, piano bringing in a violins, which then allow a guitar to present itself on top, and then vocals throughout the depth present here is incredible. This album is simply phenomenally worked, a progressive rock musical theatre, a modern classical opera littered with emotional vocals, guitar solo’s and top notch orchestration that whilst not appealing to many, delivers on something nobody else can.

Highlights: Heroes…, Temporis, Desertanima, Immenso

By T. Bawden