Crusade 1212 by Dorian Opera, a prog metal masterpiece

Art Rock

Sr. Regulator
Staff member
Sr. Regulator
Three years after their very worthwhile debut album No secrets, German prog metal band Dorian Opera have returned with a masterpiece. Crusade 1212 is a fascinating concept album with a tragic opera-like storyline, inspired by the historical Children's crusade. The original four members are still there, augmented with a lead singer (Sven the Axe) and a female guest vocalist (Alexandra Goess). The music falls roughly in the Dream Theater meets Neo Prog range, with considerable instrumental virtuosity, but without noodling for noodling's sake. The extended instrumental passages are all fit for purpose, and in the best prog tradition.

Right from the atmospheric start with a short spoken recital of the subject matter over a great almost improvised instrumental background, this highly melodious, heavy rocking album keeps you spellbound. Metal riffs and hard rock sequences alternate with more soft spoken passages, but both are dominated by truly fantastic keyboards (Andrew Roussak) and gorgeous guitar work (Oliver Weislogel) - worthy of comparison with the greatest in the genre. Bass player Joe Eisenburger and drummer Harry Reischmann also take their opportunities to shine. Singer Sven the Axe's high-pitched voice is very suited for this repertoire, with an occasional vibrato that reminded me of early Uriah Heep (one of my favourite bands). Appropriately for a guest vocalist, Alexandra Goess gets fewer lines, providing background vocals mostly, but she takes her chance where she is given it, in particular in the beautiful track Two hearts. Excellent voice.

If there is one thing that bugged me about their debut, it was the recording quality. Well, no complaints in that respect for the new release. Great sound, great balance between the various instruments and the singing. The cover is once more excellent, the booklet with all lyrics in gothic font is informative, even if it takes a while to get used to reading it.

There is not much point in going into detail song by song - this is after all a concept album that should be heard in its entirety. And it really should be heard - it is absolutely brilliant!

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