Dorian Opera - 'Crusade 1212'

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Dorian Opera - 'Crusade 1212'

A good album.

Dorian Opera is a German metal band that mixes power, symphonic and progressive elements. It was formed in 2007, the band's name apparently being chosen to underline a link between classical and rock music: Dorian being a scale mostly often used in rock compositions. (I didn't previously know this…) Oliver Weislogel (guitar), Joe Eisenburger (bass, vocals), Andrew Roussak (keyboards) and Harry Reischmann (drums) – all seasoned musicians who had also previously played together in various local bands - comprised the combo that recorded debut album 'No Secrets' released the following year. For this second album, the band has now recruited vocalists Sven the Axe and Alexandra Goess.

'Crusade 1212' is a conceptual work with a supposed crusade by children in the year in question as its focus. Some scholars now believe this to be apocryphal, but it nevertheless makes for a great story, here seen through the eyes of two young characters: Jan and Constance. It is in so many ways a fascinating album and right from the outset where a short scene-setting narrative is set against some sound effects, which then develop into a highly dramatic neo-classical instrumental; it grabs the attention and keeps it captive!



The prowess of the band members is demonstrated over and over again with dextrous keyboards and gorgeous guitar playing dominating proceedings throughout. Nor should the impact of the rhythm section be discounted, the quality of the interaction between them and the lead instruments reaching a pinnacle in the instrumental 'Crusade'. Highly energetic sections with wonderful guitar shredding and/or keyboard solos are intermingled with more subdued, introspective sections. For an absolutely wonderful example of this, look no further than the beautiful track 'Two Hearts' where Gross absolutely shines both solo and in duet with STE. The nine plus minutes of 'Follow Your Heart' is another total success: and as might be expected in a track of this length, you will find the musical equivalent of the kitchen sink – but it works: and wonderfully so, the keyboards of Roussak underlining just what a talented player he is.

The vocal contributions of Alexandra Gross are, I feel, very significant to the success of this album: and her non-operatic stylings are a complete joy whenever they appear. But the more observant amongst you will realise I have avoided saying anything about Sven The Axe. Sadly, I do not feel the band has found the right guy as some of his vocals sound flat and unconvincing to me. Fortunately, many of his contributions are to be found in duets where his shortcomings are far less obvious. Only occasionally have I found these a distraction, but they are especially so in 'Soldier Of Fortune'. However, by the time the wonderfully melodic tracks 'So Long' and 'Hope' bring the album to a conclusion, his vocals have either shown a marked improvement, or I have become more accepting of them!

Thus, 'Crusade 1212' is a good album, whereas it might have been a really great album had a more expressive and capable male vocalist been involved to complement all the other exceptional elements present.

Paul Jerome Smith

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