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Soulspell: Hollow's Gathering

Soulspell is a Brazilian Heavy Metal Opera project conceived and brought together by drummer Heleno Vale. Hollow's Gathering is the third release from Soulspell, and a concept album telling the story of many characters (played by an impressive lineup of metal singers) who face situations of internal conflict requiring decisions which, without the characters' knowledge, affect and change the course of the present, future, and even past of all of the other characters. Although the story takes place in the present, historic events are also tangled in it. As I said before, the lineup of musicians present on the recording is quite impressive, including (among a variety of instrumentalists from various bands and projects) Blaze Bayley (ex. Iron Maiden), Tim "Ripper" Owens (ex. Judas Priest, Iced Earth), Michael Vescera (ex. Loudness, Yngqie Malmsteen), Amanda Somerville (Avantasia, Trillium), Carlos Zema (ex. Outworld, Beyond Twilight), Tito Falaschi (Almah), and many others. Stylistically, Soulspell blends classic, symphonic, and power (a little heavy on the power) metal with a rock opera style of writing. If you can imagine a heavier, more metal sounding version of Ayreon similar at times to Blind Guardian and Avantasia that will give you an idea of the style of music. The many voices that are utilized give this a varying, dynamic feeling that keeps the music engaging and helps to move the ideas of the story forward. The production is very clear, and the style represents multiple moods with ballads, plenty of heavy sections, melodic, male and female vocalists with more clean vocals than growling, and some good instrumentals. This combination is sure to be a hit for many Power Metal fans.

Track listing:
1. Hollow's Gathering
2. A Rescue Into the Storm
3. To Crawl Or to Fly
4. Anymore
5. Adrian's Call
6. Change the Tide
7. From Hell
8. The Keeper's Game
9. The Dead Tree
10. Whispers Inside You

Added: October 5th 2012
Reviewer: Geoff Glenister
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 2623
Language: english

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Soulspell: Hollow's Gathering
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-10-05 15:53:57
My Score:

So how do a humble lumberjack, a fifteen year old boy and an evil dragon come to make everyday decisions (evil dragons make everyday decisions??) that have huge ramifications on everyone else's life in a way that intertwines with current, future and historical events? No, I've no clue either, but somehow Brazilian power metal exponents Soulspell are releasing their third album, Hollow's Gathering around this very concept, and it has to be said that they do it very well. Add to that a cast of many, including bassist Markus Grosskopf (Helloween) and vocalists Blaze Bayley (ex-Iron Maiden), Tim "Ripper" Owens (ex-Judas Priest/Iced Earth), Amanda Somerville (Avantasia) and Michael Vescera (ex-Yngwie Malmsteen), among many, many others and there's no doubt that power metal aficionados need sit up and take notice.

The whole project is masterminded by drummer Heleno Vale, who has not only assembled a cast to be proud of, but who has weaved together eclectic, if always bombastic musical ideas, to grand overblown lyrics with great effect. Imagine if you will, Avantasia cavorting madly with Helloween, while Therion and Nightwish try to muscle in on the action and you won't be far away from what Soulspell manage to pull off. Sometimes the sheer grandiose nature of the venture brings the whole concept in danger of crashing in on itself, with slower songs venturing into Broadway/West End musical styles in a way that can suggest a strong hint of cheese. However with a cast of singers taking on their character roles with masses of enthusiasm, the album just about stays afloat to soar during its more galloping, metallic sections. It really is to Vale's credit that he has coaxed such believable performances from his huge cast of vocalists, with both "Ripper" and especially Bayley providing some of their strongest, most varied vocals ever.

The constant change of vocal focus has two effects. You'll never be bored as singers come and go, but there is a danger that you'll become overwhelmed by the never ending voice shape shifting. Especially around such ambitiously attacked music. In the end the sheer force of the songs and performances wins out, but it is a close run thing.

Hollow's Gathering is a bombastic, OTT blast of power metal, sometimes too bombastic and sometimes too OTT. However it is all done with a knowing wink and an enthusiasm that can't be doubted, which in itself leaves you satisfied with every listen.

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