Marco Garau’s Magic Opera – Battle of Ice (Self-Released)Friday, 17th February 2023
Upon seeing the band name, one expects fun power metal, and that’s exactly what we have here. 2 years after releasing their well received debut album The Golden Pentacle, the story of wizards and unicorns continues, with the addition of a dragon!
This album was this writer’s introduction to the band. Going back and listening to the debut, one can easily hear a much improved mixing quality; likely due to Roland Grapow’s involvement. The debut heavily showcased the amazing keyboard work of the band’s namesake, but reduced the guitar sound to undesirable levels. Despite the beefing up of the lead guitar, the rhythm guitar and bass continue to be buried.
The album follows the tale of the evil wizard Sir Dohron’s escape from prison with the cursed crown and his attempt to take back over Amtork from the good wizard Lord Kama and King Leiber. Leaving it there as to not spoil the story, but know that it does feel a bit like an overly cheesy DnD campaign. For some, neoclassical style power metal with wizards, unicorns, and dragons might be just what you’re looking for, but for this writer it was a bit much, especially after reading the full concept on the band’s official website.
Musically, Battle of Ice shows off the talents of most of the artists involved in the project. Between the soaring lead guitars of Luca Sellitto, excellent keyboard work of Marco Garau, powerful drumming of Salvatore Giordano and Anton Darusso’s top notch vocals, you have a solid showcase. However, circling back to the earlier point of the rhythm guitar and bass being still mixed too low, what could have been a powerful foundation is lacking. It’s clear the keyboard work is intended to be the main highlight given the project’s founder, but this writer is most impressed with the vocal performance. Rarely in this style will one hear any kind of harsh vocals, but the listener is graced with that on both the debut and current offering. On tracks like “The Legend of the Demon’s Cry,” “Assault on the Castle,” “The Book of Evil,” and “Battle of Ice,” Darusso features a layered approach to his clean style and guttural harsh tone. To be able to pull that off is a feat in and of itself, but it is done masterfully and deserves high praise. The tracks featuring this impressive vocalization are the highlights of the album.
For fans of this style, it’s hard not to smile hearing about a wizard flying at the speed of light on the back of an ice breathing dragon (not a spoiler, since it’s on the bloody cover art). Whether that smile is from thinking how fun it is or just how silly and cheesy it is, a smile is sure to cross your face at least once during a spin through.
Marco Garau’s Magic Opera on Facebook