Neapolitan veterans Opera Nera bring a lot of experience to bear on this short but sweet little album; four of the members (vocalist Tiziano Spigno is here in a guest capacity) moved to this project stright from an ambitious scoring session of the 1921 silent movie classic Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horrors, and although Land of Salvation isn’t all Garlic and crucifixes, there’s a definite dark pallor hanging over the record.
Opening track Feeding The Wolves is a straight up proggy metal delight, bringing Dio and the heavier moments of Rush together in a nice and surprisingly successful synergy, but if you’re expecting this dose to be repeated over the rest of the album’s five tracks you’re in for a big surprise.
Remember I labelled the band veterans at the top of the piece? Well, they cherry pick some of the best musical moments of the last thirty-odd years to put this album together, meaning that though this is ostensibly a metal album there are always a few twists and turns to look out for on the journey. Wrong, the most accessible track here, works in a few melodies from Radiohead, whilst In The Salvation Land of Her Breast goes full prog amidst dramatic chord progressions and some nice guitar work from Alessandro Carrino and Marco Naploitano, backed by a boisterous, bouncing bass contribution from Alessandro Pacella in tandem with rhythm pal drummer Eduardo Spada. Imagine a stripped down Dream Theater going back to their metal roots and youre getting close as far as sonics are concerned.
After that high water mark of ambition, Save Me comes off as just a little ‘basic’, treading water for four and a half minutes (although it does come equipped with a couple of nice guitar solos), but penultimate track Suburbia Messiah gets things back on an exciting keel with a spiky bass intro and some aggressive vocal/guitar interplay. Spigno gives a great performance on this track, balancing grit and melody with skill and superior chops.
Final track Trees rounds things out in classy, semi-laidback style, making sure that the listener leaves the album on a high. Opera Nera aren’t breaking new ground here, but they are pretty convincing as new additions to the Italian metal cohort. If they can keep Spigno on board for future endeavours then the future may well be bright for these dark hearted metalheads…
Land of Salvation releases on July 7th.