Opus Atlantica is the type of metal band that can make a song called "Sleep With the Devil" sound like something Europe sang on that Swedish band's squeaky-clean 1986 album The Final Countdown. In fact, Europe — with its heavy use of keyboards and multilayered backing vocals that come off like choirs — isn't a half-ass starting point for describing the sound of Europe's four fellow countrymen in Opus Atlantica, which actually includes two of the Flower Kings. Yes, Opus Atlantica's self-titled debut is one of three albums recently released by Regain Records featuring members of that progressive rock (note: not metal) band either in the studio or behind the knobs. The other projects are Karmakanic's Entering the Spectra and the self-titled album from Time Requiem. All three sound vastly different from each other.
Opus Atlantica boasts singer Pete Sandberg (Alien) and guitarist Johan Reinholz (Andromeda, Nonexist), as well as Flower King Jonas Reingold on bass and former Flower King Jaime Salazar (Midnight Sun) on drums. Together, they meld hard rock and progressive metal into a diverse blend of neoclassical arrangements, sing-along choruses and propulsive rhythms. Nearly every song comes off as a rousing anthem, even if the typical lyrics are along the lines of "Rivers of blood, bodies in mud/Darkness unleashed, it's the ultimate feast" (from "Endless Slaughter").
Sandberg's voice shows little sign of aging and suits this material well, and Reinholz lets loose with some frantic fretwork. Reingold, meanwhile, shows off his heavier chops, begging the question: Is this what the Flower Kings would sound like if the bass player could convince singer Roine Stolt to rock out? (Actually, a better idea of how the band would sound in that case comes via Karmakanic.) Opus Atlantica is a solid album rooted in traditional metal themes lyrically but unafraid to take an irresistible melody and run with it. More power to these guys.