Dorian Opera is the original name chosen by four German musicians for their band who have just released their debut album No secrets mid 2008. I have reviewed a solo album by their keyboard player Andrew Roussak (No trespassing) before. For more information on this band (and music samples) see their web sites:
The album - song by song:
1. Ouverture (6:40)
Starting with white noise and the sound of breaking glass, an impressive instrumental opener enfolds. The music shows some influences of light metal (think Riverside, Porcupine Tree), but does not sound derivative. After about 3 minutes the track explodes in a short synthesizer extravaganza, only to give way to a wonderfully effective middle part with astonishingly interwoven samples from speeches by Bush on Iraq. Screams lead us back to a really rocking part of this instrumental with some very melodious parts as well, and a final coda. Excellent guitar work by Oliver Weislogel throughout this track. Probably my favourite track on the album.
2. Sacrifice (5:22)
The first vocal song sees lead singer Joe Eisenburger kick in with a voice that is very suitable for the music. The thrust forward throughout the song is awesome, and there are some highly melodious more quiet interludes to provide variety. The lyrical theme is ambiguous -after the first track, the link to war is tempting but it could also be more general about sacrifice.
3. Tell me your lies (6:48)
We enter more heavy territory here in the introduction, with some excellent keyboards by Andrew Roussak, but once the singing starts, the mood becomes more reflective. Great melody, well sung (excellent backing vocals as well), and marvellous guitar work once more throughout this song (love the repeat of the theme around 5 minutes). The end comes unexpectedly but works very well. Once more the lyrics sit on the fence - there is a potential Bush link in the title, but also a more general interpretation works.
4. Dead or alive (4:30)
A clear shift in mood with a strings dominated introduction, but quickly we are rocking once more. The chorus is particularly appealing, but the sound could ideally have been a bit more open here. There is a sense of urgency throughout this song which reflects the lyrics about a man framed for murder. I like the closing out, where the strings return and sound effects are used wisely. Kick-ass guitar play again in this song, be it this time by special guest Michael Brettner.
5. No secrets (4:11)
The title song starts off with some great drums play by Harry Reischmann, after which the guitar sets the scene for yet another great instrumental track. A nice change of mood follows with great melodic lines on the guitar. A really great instrumental and all in all maybe the best sound recording of the album. This should be a treat at concerts as well!
6. Little lies (5:58)
More light metal riffs introduce a song where multilayered vocals are used prominently. Good melodic variations in this song. I like the (only too short) keyboards-led middle part around 4 minutes very much. Lyrically, we are clearly back to the Iraq theme here (Happiness and freedom can't be ever based on lies). Excellent track.
7. Fly with me (4:57)
After the heaviness in themes and music so far, this is a beautiful interlude. Astonishing acoustic guitar work introduces a song that borrows strongly from baroque classical msuic to wonderful effect. The voice of Eisenburger is suited for this more calm ballad as well - lyrically we are very far away from the war suddenly, and actually travel back in time to the courts of the middle ages. The chorus remains calm with great backing vocals, and a superb melodic line. Wonderful close out by acoustic guitar once more.
8. One of these days (6:18)
And we are back to the thrusting rock that dominates most of this album, and once more a chance for Weislogel to shine on electrical guitar. It is a good enough song, but for its length, I would have preferred a bit more variety. The lyrical theme is very actual, youth getting lost in virtual reality fighting games and then copying that one day in real life.
9. Truly yours (5:31)
Perhaps my least favourite track of the album, especially due to a melody line that is distinctly unimpressive. The sound also sounds more congested here to my ears than on other tracks, and the drums seem out of sync somehow (could be just me). That said, the interplay between guitar and synthesizers around 3 minutes is excellent, and the original ending saves the song.
10. She (6:11)
The regular album closes out aptly with another great rocker, where once again light metal instrumental parts and more subdued melodic singing lines alternate. In line with previous songs, guitars and keyboards shine, and once more they opt for a good closing line rather than a fade out. Somehow this song reminds me of Uriah Heep, one of my favourite seventies bands - although it is by no means derivative.
Bonus track: L estate - presto (3:14)
Make way Vanessa Mae! A marvellous explosive modern version of this Vivaldi tune from the Four Seasons, and quite rightly advertised as a bonus as it does not fit in with the rest of the album that well. But what fun the band must have had recording it - and what a great live track it would make!
Recording and design
The recording is good, though at times a bit congested, and I would have liked the drums to have been more prominent in the mix. The CD cover is brilliant: the band's logo is excellent and the whole design looks very professional and appealing. The booklet contains all the lyrics in an easily readable format (compliments for that), as well as pictures of the band members and more information.
No secrets by Dorian Opera is a strong debut album that should appeal to lovers of progressive rock as well as classical rock alike. Far superior to most new CD's I have heard this year. For this review I have listened at least ten times to it the past week and most of the tracks still sound fresh. On a scale from one to six stars, this is a five star album to my taste.