Operadyse – Pandemonium
Operadyse – Pandemonium (2013)
Reviewed by Daniel Millard
The telling strikes of new power metal have been falling left and right this most righteous of autumns, and the Frenchmen of Operadyse have seen fit to lend their sword arm to the collective effort to bury us listeners utterly in a mountain of releases. The band’s debut release, Pandemonium, is a symphonic power metal affair that draws upon the considerable vocal talents of Frank Garcia (better known as the erstwhile frontman of Spheric Universe Experience), and boy do I ever like him in this setting!
Drawing to mind similar recent projects like Fogalord and perhaps Galderia, I find Operadyse outstanding for its sheer buoyancy. This is not, as some may say, “yet another Rhapsody clone”. Please. If that statement were true of half the bands accused of it, we’d be dwelling in a cesspool of artistic stagnancy – and that is hardly the case. Pandemonium, the album’s title, should be interpreted in the most jubilant, energetic way possible. Often a generally uplifting, almost martial power metal beat (“Unfold Legend”), Operadyse nevertheless varies its formula more than you might think, featuring variety in the mystique of “Fairies Secret Garden”, a sudden black metal lapse in “Keeper Of The Flame”, and the absurdly joyful strains of “Nevermore”.
A large part of what makes this work outstanding is its bombast. String samples, synth brass, rich choirs, lots of tom rolls from the drum kit, extremely good supporting female vocal work, and even some timpani and big crash cymbals in the background – Operadyse pulls out all the stops to make this as big and as ambitious a project as possible. While that’s true, this isn’t as ludicrously over-the-top as a band like Pathfinder. As explosive as the aural pyrotechnics are on Pandemonium, there’s also a noticeable sense of restraint. This tendency is best manifested in the sweeping breaks that take place in the music from time to time. Mark my words – wherever Pathfinder would insert a shriek or spin up a brazen guitar solo, Operadyse is more than happy to draw back, lay off the guitars and vocals, throw in some deep brass, and let the scale of the compositions grow. As a result, we have a pronounced “peaks and valleys” feeling with this album – but I’m not addressing the quality of the music, which is universally good to great – but rather the dynamic and textural sensations. Further emphasizing this behavior is the tonality – so much of this album abounds in uplifting major key revelry that when anything discordant arises, it is very pronounced, and consequently that much more powerful.
There are only a couple of very minor drawbacks to this otherwise very impressive album. The first is my sometimes back-and-forth relationship with Garcia – a singer who wasn’t remotely on my roadmap prior to this album. He has the typical French slur that affects his enunciation with much of the lyricism, and I feel that his softer vocals leave something to be desired. On the other hand, when he ratchets up to the high register and gives his voice a bit of a bite, he reminds me of Bill Makatowicz of Illusion Suite – which is a rather flattering comparison in my book. Secondly and finally, in terms of real criticism, and I’ll put this simply: I want more guitar. For all my talk of comparing this to Pathfinder and praising its subtlety, I miss some of the bright and flashy guitar work that that album featured. Operadyse definitely does not excel at “heavy” metal.
Pandemonium is, however, a symphonic power metal lover’s blissful release, and a joy for anyone that craves the inspiring, feel-good brand of power metal that genre stalwarts Freedom Call and Power Quest once emphasized. This will get dismissed by those who don’t like “flower metal”, but the devil take them – this is exciting and not insubstantial material. Just one more banger on the books for 2013 to you and I, perhaps, but this album is an auspicious beginning to a career for Operadyse.
4.0 // 5