Marco Garau’s Magic Opera return with another concept album filled with all the technical and theatrical elements symphonic power metal has to offer.
Two years ago in 2021, Marco Garau reached out to The Metal Resource and asked if we’d be willing to review the debut album from Marco Garau’s Magic Opera, The Golden Pentacle. I was the one lucky enough to get the album and definitely was impressed. When the time came this time around, I knew what to expect. For those not in the know, Marco hails from the Milan-based power metal band Derdian, who have been around for nearly two decades at this point. The only changes to the band I noticed was the addition of Luca Selitto on lead guitar and Ollie Bernstein coming in for bass work which shifts Enrico Pistolese to guitars. As one would expect, production and mixing are very clean and polished and possibly a bit too much for my liking but certainly not out of place in the genre. As for the story with this concept album, it essentially picks up where The Golden Pentacle left off and is the second installment of the “Amtork Saga” written by Garau. In the fantasy storyline, you have the classic good vs evil storyline with dragons and wizards and castles, all expected in an epic storyline.
Given what I knew about the album, the opening track “The Black Sorcery” starting out with a string section being joined by guitars and then bursting out at galloping speed was exactly what I was expecting. Add in some technical keyboard-guitar harmonies before the verses even start and you have an idea of how the album will progress. Of course there is a soaring chorus, catchy melodies, and double bass drumline to keep the track moving. The track also gives us a very brief idea of what Luca Selitto is capable of on guitar which has me looking forward to the rest of the album.
“The Cursed Crown” showcases Anto Darusso’s vocal talents as he switches between clean and harsh, growled vocals depending on which side of the story is being told, an approach taken in other parts of the album and it works really well. Once again, the rhythm section is playing at breakneck speed and there are some good keyboard elements that give extra depth to the song, including a lone piano interlude. Selitto’s guitar accompanying the harsh vocal section add an extra intensity and Garau of course adds in a keyboard solo before Selitto lights everything on fire with a short, blazing solo.
“The Legend of the Demon’s Cry” is one of the more imaginative tracks on the album with several different vocal arrangements and a quieter keyboard-driven section backed by some rhythmic percussion that builds only to slow to a brief stop leading into the keyboard and guitar solos which are paced very differently within the song. “Assault on the Castle” has that epic feel to it and almost seems like something a band like Wind Rose might perform. For those power metal aficionados, there are songs that are very typical in terms of speed and arrangement, like “Ride into the Sun” or even the aforementioned “The Cursed Crown” but even as predictable as they are, performances are strong the songs are simply a fun listen. I even thought for a bit “White Dragon” was going to be classic ballad based on how it started with the piano and keyboards accompanying the clean singing of Anton Darusso, but as one might expect, the ballad portion of the song didn’t last very long before the double bass took off and the song shifted to breakneck speed.
The album closes with the 10+ minute long epic title track, “Battle of Ice” and its many different sections. The opening part with the guitar and keyboard harmonies are great and Darusso’s vocals cover the spectrum from clean to harsh and some clever layering adds intensity to the song. The keyboard and guitar interplay throughout the song and the solos are worth the time investment. By this point in the album, it became clear to me just how polished the production and mixing were, which is not my favorite aspect as I would have liked a bit rougher edge and maybe a greater presence of the work from Ollie Bernstein on bass and Salvatore Giordano on drums as they provided a solid backing to all the tracks.
Marco Garau’s Magic Opera has done it again! A great band telling an epic fantasy story using symphonic power metal makes for another great release that is simply a lot of fun to listen to…
Written by John Jackson
- The Black Sorcery
- The Cursed Crown
- The Legend of the Demon’s Cry
- Assault on the Castle
- Ride into the Sun
- White Dragon
- The Shadow Man
- The Book of Evil
- Under Siege
- Battle of ice
Anton Darusso – Vocals
Marco Garau – Keyboards
Luca Selitto – Lead guitars
Ollie Bernstein – Bass
Enrico Pistolese – Guitars and backing vocals
Salvatore Giordano – Drums
Release Date: 27th. Jan. 2023
Record Label: Independent
2021: “The Golden Pentacle” (review)
2023: “Battle of Ice”
Social Media: Facebook / Band site / Bandcamp / Twitter / Spotify
Lyric video for ‘Ride into the Sun”:
Lyric video for ‘Under Siege’