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Operose: Oceans Of Starlight

Oceans Of Starlight is the second album from UK Symphonic Metal duo Operose, where operatic vocalist Jennifer Coleman and guitar-smith Joe McGurk team up to form a full force, no compromise, operatic metal symphony. In fairness though and having looked at the feedback their debut offering - 2017’s Footprints In The Hourglass - received, there’s little in the way of preambles, or classical fat on the symphonic metal bone here. Coleman and McGurk, aided by Steve Hauxwell on drums and Mike Bridge on bass, wasting no time in getting straight to it.

Something of a shredder, McGurk does reasonably well to tightrope along the thin line of virtuosity on this album, leaving more than enough room for Coleman to take her fair share of the limelight. Where, on a personal note, things are less finally balanced is in Operose’s predilection for a full on attack, with the clamour to illustrate the illustrious talents of Coleman and the prowess of McGurk often resulting in a slightly less dynamic attack than I’d have preferred. With synths used to bolster the sound, both vocally and musically, at times things can feel a little overwhelming. Something that the closing, twelve minute plus, “The Actium Suite” suffers from in particular. However, when the skills on show are as impressive as they are, then maybe it’s understandable that the temptation to constantly highlight those aspects proves difficult to resist?

“Octavian” is one of the key moments where everything comes together most cohesively, the riffs given just a touch more time to bite in before being deconstructed by chord progressions and percussive outbursts. Here Coleman also tempers some of her more ebullient tendencies and as such, comes across in a way that feels a little more natural. On some of the more frenetic moments, the opportunity to maybe add a slightly different vocal element may just have built the tension somewhat and I’d like to have heard a few passages where the vocals maybe weren’t quite so soaring - although in fairness that’s a comment I’d make towards most Metal in this stylistic sphere and not just Operose.

Oceans Of Starlight finds two jaw dropping talents going head to head but they do so while remaining hand in hand. For me this isn’t a classic album but that doesn’t stop what Operose do from impressing hugely. Things may not always quite equal the sum of its parts for this reviewer, but the more symphonically minded might just see things from a different standpoint.

Track Listing
1. Battle Swan
2. Oceans of Starlight
3. Lost Horizon
4. This Life of Mine
5. Nothing Left
6. On Sleeping Tides
7. Octavian
8. The Actium Suite

Added: February 24th 2020
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Operose @ facebook
Hits: 343
Language: english

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