Marco Garau's Magic Opera - Official Website

Battle Of Ice

Italy Country of Origin: Italy

Battle Of Ice
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Buy on: Bandcamp
Type: Full-Length
Release Date: January 27th, 2023
Label: Independent
Genre: Power
1. The Black Sorcery
3. The Legend Of The Demon's Cry
4. Assault On The Castle
5. Ride Into The Sun
6. White Dragon
7. The Shadow Man
8. The Book Of Evil
9. Under Siege
10. Battle Of Ice

Review by Lynxie on June 27, 2023.

Magic Opera, the solo project of Derdian's former keyboard wizard Marco Garau, is fast becoming a personal favorite. I really dig this sort of slick neoclassical power metal, and I love how he does the storytelling. In style there's not much departure from the debut, though we do have a bit more of harsh vocals in the mix; we are dealing with a Cursed (pronounce ''cur-SEHd'', if you please) Crown and some sort of a legend about demon's cry after all. Anyways, that's not a bad thing in my books as long as the harsh vocals are threaded cunningly into the music. And Garau obviously knows what he is doing.

The joy of listening to such old guards at their job is, well, you'll know that fluency is always guaranteed. The release reaches just a little over 1 hour, yet you'll find me still listening to it when the whole morning has passed. Truly there is no dull point. At every turn a new keyboard line or a huge chorus would jump out and grab your attention. Sometimes it's just an intricate rhythm or maybe even a vocal harmony like those on 'Assault On The Castle'. Yet that's enough, and maybe just enough. Garau knows how to spread out the attractions evenly to make Battle Of Ice a totally enrapturing listen. I like how songs like 'The Black Sorcery' and 'White Dragon' begin like a ballad but soon speed up and burst into a stream of pure neoclassical goodness. I fucking adore that chorus on 'Ride Into The Sun'. Really, any band that sings about ''So, I'll take my unicorn. And then I'll go as far as possible, you know'' gets a 'fuck, why not' from me. Besides, the deed was done ''for me, for you, for everyone''. And I'm always up for smooth weaving of keyboards and guitars. After all, you can always trust Garau and Pistolese on the solos with their history. Most importantly, we finally got our 11-min track. The title track is epic and the song knows it as the chorus declares ''Welcome to this epic battle of ice''. Quite bland, but you gotta love the neoclassical glory about the songwriting.

Honestly, I fucking love Garau's lyrics. Just listen to that opening of 'White Dragon':

I am looking at the red sky
Even if it’s not the best time
But tomorrow is another tiring day

I get covered by a big shadow
Looking up I see a white dragon
That is flying imperiously so close to me

It’s so beautiful to see
I am wondering why he’s here
Maybe he just came here to help me

I can see the ice in his eyes
Which can go out at any time
And it is much worse than fire
He can freeze everything

I knew there would be dragons involved the moment I saw the album cover; I certainly did not foresee the arrival of the greatest beast. Yet again, fuck, why not? Garau's lyrics are crude, sure, what do you expect? English is not his first language. But they show passion, they make me feel that he's truly in love with the fantasy stuff. To hell with the real world, I'll take my unicorn and ride into the sun. Else, if I'm feeling down, ''I drink some wine to help my mind''('The Shadow Man'). At the same time, all those neoclassical compositions prevent the whole thing from falling into a meme. It's cheesy, aye, but it's good cheese.

Also, Darusso's vocal works are just as impressive as, if not more than, his works on their debut. On tracks like 'Assault On The Castle' and 'The Legend Of The Demon's Cry', we hear him sliding nimbly from fry vocals to power metal wails. Indeed he is ever more ready to lapse into harsh vocals this time, or maybe just aiming for a less melodic tone. But, as before, that makes for a unique mix and I am very impressed by that last growl on Battle Of Ice. Yet the keys, the orchestras would soften the harsher edge, thus invoking a certain sense of epicness, which certainly would've been missed if Darusso had used clean vocals. Maybe such aggression is needed to compensate for the bright melody, but you would still know this for epic power metal. Besides, those opening lines on 'White Dragon' shows Darruso can manage more emotional lines with a mellower tone as well -- I'm almost hearing a bit of Deris there. While the force of the ballad 'The Shadow Man' is ever stronger because of his raspy tone.

All the more power to Garau for producing the album with clearer riffs and less orchestra, probably because we're engaging in a lot of battles this time instead of embarking on a journey to seek an ancient relic, so we need less of epic pipe organs. At any rate, I love both of them. This is again 1-hour of prime neoclassical power metal. Judging by Derdian's consistency, I suspect that will ever be the case and so I rest satisfied.

Highlights: 'Assault On The Castle', 'Ride Into The Sun', 'White Dragon', 'The Shadow Man', 'Battle Of Ice'

Rating: 9.8 out of 10