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Heavatar: Opus II - The Annihilation

Remember that question you've always asked yourself? "Just how would it sound if Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin and friends joined a metal band?". No? You've never asked that? Me neither.

Stefan Schmidt, the mastermind of Van Canto, the a cappella 'metal' band, certainly has and he thinks he's found the answer - Heavatar. With Schmidt on vocals and guitars, he's joined in this quest by drummer Jörg Michael, lead guitarist Sebastian Scharf, bassist Daniel Wicke… "and some of the greatest composers of all time". Opus II – The Annihilation is actually, as you've probably guessed, the second album in this style, Opus I – All My Kingdoms arriving in 2013 and gaining this band quite a lot of favourable mentions. And, while it's easy to be sniffy, it's equally simple to hear why.

Whatever the starting point of this album, from Blackmore to Malmsteen and from Accept to Nightwish, classical music has long been a source of inspiration in the heavy rock and metal genre. So while Heavatar may not quite be the innovators they believe they are, their chosen attack works undoubtedly well. Personally I'm not a Van Canto fan, but the skill and mastery of arrangement that band benefit from is also prevalent here, Schmidt clearly hugely talented in that direction. Hence from the off, "None Shall Sleep" and its clear borrowing of the melody line from "Nesssun Dorma" (well they do mean the same thing after all) decides to kick ass, while still being clearly of classical inspiration. It's Chopin that is borrowed from on "Hijacked By Unicorns", his piano shuffle converted quickly into a darting riff and layered vocal. Again it's catchy and memorable, heavy and intricate, while reminding, rather surprisingly, of Manowar. Or maybe not so surprisingly, given that the Manowar cover of "Metal Daze" is also recounted in reasonably faithful fashion (so Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, and Ross The Boss? All makes perfect sense…). However even though there is undoubtedly a 'death to false (classical) metal' feel about everything here, it's the more restrained and less metal "A Look Inside" that betrays what's really going on, with a full orchestral version also added at the album's end. For while there is a metal heart here, it's not one that Accept would have used to lace their Teutonic bombardments with classical themes, but more the other way round.

All that said, what's most important is that, no matter its staring point, Opus II – The Annihilation is a good, strong metal album of an old school variety. It isn't the out of the box exercise it maybe thinks it is and you could confuse a lot of it for Malmsteen meets Manowar, but if you're wiling to come along for the ride, there is a huge amount of heavy, classical metal fun to be had.

Track Listing
1. None Shall Sleep
2. Into Doom
3. Purpose Of A Virgin Mind
4. Hijacked By Unicorns
5. The Annihilation
6. Wake Up Now
7. A Broken Taboo
8. An Awakening
9. A Battle Against All Hope
10. A Look Inside
11. Metal Daze
12. The Look Inside (orchestral version)

Added: February 24th 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Heavatar online
Hits: 1463
Language: english

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