Dispyria – The Story of Marion Dust (El Puerto Records)Wednesday, 8th February 2023
Mastermind/composer Juergen Walzer may be best known in metal circles for founding German power/progressive metal outfit Superior, although he left after three demos in 1992 before the band’s fine debut album Behind hit the streets in 1995. His latest outfit Dispyria started in 2012, releasing two albums on House Master Records before signing to El Puerto Records for this third record, The Story of Marion Dust. A conceptual effort with a protagonist Josh Devon fighting personal demons, Marion Dust is the central focus this time – given supernatural powers, holding the good versus evil card that plays out over this eight-track outing.
Choosing to assemble a vocal triad that excels at every facet of traditional heavy/power metal material fits into this dramatic-oriented musical underpinning – with Zak Stevens (Savatage, Circle II Circle, TSO) tackling the lion’s share of duties with five songs showcasing his glorious voice. Of which opener “A Girl Called Marion” and eight-minute epic “Fire Child” rise above the flock, the latter featuring main chord progressions plus a solid, emotive lead break that mirrors Tony Martin-era Black Sabbath and latter day Savatage. Primal Fear singer Ralf Scheepers showcases his bone chilling diversity in lower to leather lung capacities during “The Resistance” – shifting into anthem-oriented gear quickly while sprinkles of shredding arpeggio action and operatic movements appear at specific moments to create more anticipation for the next twist/turn. Ex-Domain / Book of Reflections vocalist Carsten Schultz takes on the final two songs “Pandora’s Box” and “The Curse” – using a bit more of a bluesy, rockin’ belter nature to the former arrangement, while spitting his Rainbow-like register that matches the heavier atmosphere to the latter. The proper pacing of the material plus additional narrative/sound effect aspects should retain interest in full playbacks – aligning well for those who love the Avantasia catalog, along with Mob Rules and previously mentioned Savatage reference points.
Given this scribe’s first exposure to Dispyria, The Story of Marion Dust captivates as the best concept records should in any subgenre of metal. Solid playing, great songwriting, plus positioning professional singers in all the right spots to take the performances up a few notches – there are plenty of followers who will seek this out and be very satisfied.