Liva – De Insulis

Liva – De Insulis – 4/5

Kicking off the final part is what is quite possibly the closest I have found to a true split between both classical opera and metal, successfully combing growls and aggressive riff work with violins and soprano, and I mean actual soprano here. Not some ‘faux-operatic’ vocals from a ‘classically trained’ vocalist, behold full-blown operatic vocals working majestically in a metal setting.

The guitars do an excellent job of providing an interesting rhythm, and fleshing out what could otherwise be a fairly thin sounding performance. Not content to merely perform the bare essentials, they succeed in producing some good riffs to help sustain the piece for its often lengthy duration, even contributing the occasional solo (e.g. Lucido Lunae). The drums are rather quiet in the mix, providing a rather basic beat, and the bassist whilst can certainly be clearly heard in some passages, for the most part, is not where the focus is intended.

The violin, which is all too infrequently used, succeeds in creating rather basic but completely addictive ‘riffs,’ often acting in a similar way to a lead guitar, providing a sound that could not be possible with a guitar, supplying both interesting leads as well as a nice atmospheric touch, and despite the frequent absence of any form of solo, the track progresses enough throughout such that it doesn’t feel missing, but rather a welcome addition when indeed it does (e.g. Rosa Marcet Oriens).

The vocals too, are wonderfully varied. The male vocalist is truly someone to marvel at, performing growls, most akin to perhaps the likes of ‘Hollenthon,’ in that, despite a lack of aggression, succeed in reach incredible range in pitch, from the higher barking blackened screams to the deeper deathly growls, even succeeding in performing his own tenor vocals, and rapidly transitioning between quieter softer sections, lulling you into a certain mindset before screaming at you (e.g. Omnis Mundi Creatura). For most bands, this in itself would be enough for the vocals, but given the relatively sparse use of backing, it makes for more than simply a pleasant addition to listen to the operatic warblings of a soprano vocalist who makes most ‘faux-operatic,’ severely pale by comparison. Capable of holding a track without backing, one cant helped but be impressed not only by the manner in which she fits within the soundscape. Unfortunately, there were points where I felt she wasn’t capable of delivering the power required to truly dominate over the rest of the instrumentation, but regardless if this fact she succeeds where so few have apparently tried.

This album isn’t without its flaws. A major problem was its length, with each track clocking around the 7min mark, and at 70mins overall, it felt rather as though certain tracks were unnecessary filler, resulting in the final album being overtly long, and could certainly have done with a cut. Potential is shown by almost every member, clearly proficient at their instrument and they all felt as though they weren’t given sufficient time to truly shine – that the layers presented could have been worked more effectively. Despite this, I fail to truly think of another artist attempting to do this style, let alone this well. Here’s to hoping they help spark a trend of not only utilising actual Soprano vocals, but of also employing competent backing.

Highlights: Omnis Mundi Creatura, Rosa Marcet Oriens, Luge Penam, Terra Superbit