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Back in 2008, Brazilian drummer Heleno Vale had a vision - to create high quality, memorable and enjoyable metal opera, with the help of his musician friends that would rival or better any other metal opera around at the time (namely Tobias Sammet's Avantasia). His vision was achieved with the debut CD 'A Legacy of Honor', which included numerous vocalists and additional musicians mostly from Brazil. The release was received extremely well, with copies sold out in both Brazil and Japan and reviews around the world were overly quite positive. Vale then had part II set in his sights.
Fast forward to September 2010 and Heleno Vale and his caravan of singers and musicians are back for the second act of his fantasy concept. The new album is called 'The Labyrinth of Truths' and continues on from where 'A Legacy of Honor' left off. On the new release, Heleno Vale has decided to bring in new and upcoming vocalists and musicians, as well as keeping some of the guest musicians from the first disc; and lastly, bring in some high profile singers and musicians. Whew, that's a lot to keep track off.
The only musicians returning from the first release are the original guest vocalists, including Iuri Sanson (Hibria), Renato Tribuzy (Tribuzy), Nando Fernandes (ex-Hangar), Mário Linhares (ex-Dark Avenger), Leandro Caçoilo (ex-Eterna) and Maurício Del Bianco (Innerforce). Now, just some of the latest additions to the vocals include: Christian Passos (Wizards), Daisa Munhoz (Vandroya), Alex Voorhees (Imago Mortis), Carlos Zema (ex-Vogan), Dan Rubin (Magician), German Pascual (Narnia), Gui Antonioli (Anaxes), Raphael Dantas (Caravellus) and Tito Falaschi (Illustria).
Now for the clincher if all of those names mentioned isn't enough for you. How about Zak Stevens (Circle II Circle, ex-Savatage), Tim "Ripper" Owens (ex-Iced Earth, ex-Judas Priest), Jon Oliva (Jon Oliva's Pain), Edu Falaschi (Angra) and Blaze Bayley (ex-Iron Maiden). Finally, to round out the remainder of this enormous super group, there are five keyboardists, four bassists, one extra drummer and nine guitarists; including Roland Grapow (Masterplan, ex-Helloween).
Once again, much like the first release, all the vocalists are assigned characters in the fantasy-conceptual story that they must play out throughout each track. It is very similar to the layout Avantasia had with its 'Metal opera'. Differences from the debut, is that the tracks on the new disc are much longer in length; and only two of the nine tracks (not including the intro) are under 6 minutes. There is not much difference in terms of sound between the two discs, although with the longer tracks, the songs have now become more complex and challenging. Obviously already having that epic and grand showcase effect and appeal, each track contains its own form of identity. Whether it's speedy Brazilian power metal (such as "Dark Prince's Dawn"), or emotional melodic power metal (such as "Amon's Fountain"), or an intricate and majestic progressive power metal masterpiece (such as "Into the Arc of Time (Haamiah's Fall").
The only gripe I found when listening to particular was that there is so much going on at the one time; it can get overwhelming and hard to take everything in. Even though the song-writing is spectacular and ambitious to say the least (and Heleno Vale is a musical genius), certain songs can be hard to follow when you are being bombarded left, right and centre. It's only a slight thing and it really shouldn't affect anyone's listening enjoyment. With that being said, all the tracks on the disc are of a very high quality and calibre and all are quite consistent from one another. One of the catchiest tracks on the album is also the softest and most radio-friendly one as well, is the emotional and heartfelt "Adrift", featuring a warming duet of male and female vocals. "The Verve" is another quality track, exploding with extraordinary emotion and power and featuring great melodies and guitar riffs.
'The Labyrinth of Truths' is yet another solid gold release from the mind of drummer Heleno Vale, possibly a fraction better than the debut CD. If anything, the tracks would be more memorable and matured as they are longer in length and Vale has also surrounded himself with some fantastic individuals in the metal scene, particularly in Brazil. The addition of the international stars adds just that little bit more, however their parts/characters are fairly small ones, scattered here and there throughout the album. The real winner here is Vale and that he could get so many musicians together and be able to work together as a team; because there are no standout performances, just one giant and effective effort that will stay in your CD player for quite some time. If bold, epic and majestic metal operas are up your alley, then grab Soulspell's 'The Labyrinth of Truths' and you'll be on easy street in no time.
Originally written for www.metalcdratings.com or www.themetalforge.com