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Vivaldi Metal Project The Four Seasons
Written by Allyson Kenning   
Saturday, 22 October 2016

Vivaldi Metal Project – CD Review
The Four Seasons

 Vivaldi Metal Project – The Four Seasons

CD Info
2016
Pride & Joy Records
14 tracks
English Lyrics
9/10

One reviewer I often read said some time ago that the word “epic” is used too often to describe metal songs and albums, and I kind of agreed with him at the time, so I became a little more mindful of my personal use of that particular descriptor. Some albums really deserve this designation, however, and I firmly believe that The Four Seasons, masterminded by Italian keyboard virtuoso, Mistheria, and simply called the Vivaldi Metal Project, falls into the category of epicness. As you might expect from the title, this is a metalized version of Antonio Vivaldi’s Baroque masterpiece. Published in 1725 in Amsterdam, this is a very famous classical instrumental suite celebrating the four seasons, and if you’re not overly familiar with it, I’m sure there will be some parts of it that you’ll recognize if you are any sort of music lover, as some of the parts from it appear every so often in derivative works you might recognize, like Celtic Woman’s version of the Winter largo, Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Dreams of Fireflies EP & its version of the first movement from Winter, and Spain’s neo-classical/power metal outfit Dark Moor’s adaptation of another part of the Winter movement.

I have a passing familiarity with the original Four Seasons due to my love of figure skating, and when I was a teenager I watched some Olympic ice dancing final where a Russian couple frenetically performed to a movement and I was instantly taken with it, so I went out and found myself a cassette tape of The Four Seasons and listened to it quite regularly for several years. When I saw The Vivaldi Metal Project appearing in my Facebook newsfeed, I knew I had to check it out because I could see that it contained the voices and performances of many a well-known metal name.

Produced by Mistheria, this version of The Four Seasons is rightfully deserving of the term “epic” for many reasons. For one thing, it was a global effort stretching out to all corners of the planet and utilizing musicians from pretty much everywhere on earth. Choirs, quartets and symphonic arrangements were recorded in Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Italy. The vocal performances, which are too numerous to mention in the space I have for this review, came from countries like Canada, Israel, Australia, the USA, Russia, and all over Europe. Instrumental musicians collaborated from a similar list of countries. Names you’ll recognize as a fan of female fronted metal are Ailyn (ex-Sirenia), Brittney Slayes (Unleash the Archers), Nicoletta Rosallini (Kalidia), Angel Wolf-Black (Seduce the Heaven), Elina Laivera, and Lisy Stefanoni (ex-Evenoire). Some other musicians you’ll no doubt know are Sean Tibbets on bass from Kamelot, Ruud Jolie on guitar from Within Temptation, Fabio D’Amore of Serenity also on bass, and Ruben Israel on drums from Delain. Male vocalists of note are Fabio Lione of Angra and Rhapsody of Fire and Mark Boals of Dokken and Royal Hunt. And that’s just a short list!

Basically, there is something for everyone in this neoclassical metal who’s who. If you want soaring operatic vocals done by highly trained female vocalists – you’ve got it. Male classical vocals – check. Some dark growly stuff – also present. Clean vocals done by some of the best in the biz – also check. Ridiculous fingerwork performed by some of metal’s best guitarists – there’s plenty of that here. Gorgeous choir arrangements are aplenty. This CD is as rich and full of depth as a thriving coral reef in the most crystal clear of ocean beds. It’s a treat for the senses and will appeal to all kinds of music lovers.

Vivaldi’s original work was purely instrumental, but Mistheria’s vision includes lyrics written both by himself and a couple other writers, and it also includes two original pieces of music added to the suite written by Mistheria himself. This is a pretty bold move, but the two additions work seamlessly into the whole. I had to read the booklet to find out where they fit in.

“Sun of God”, track five, contains the iconic strains from my teenage years that originally hooked me onto Vivaldi during that ice dance performance I mentioned above. “Frenetic” is the best description I can come up with, and Mistheria keeps it that way, embellishing it with guitars layered on top of string orchestrations. This sent chills down my spine, and is one of the highlights of the CD.

Other spectacular and quite recognizable melodies listeners might recognize are contained in “Age of Dreams”, which is quite lovely, and Mark Boals sounds amazing on it. I also loved “Immortal Soul”, track six and a wonderful ballad, “Thunderstorm”, the seventh track. The first track, “Escape from Hell”, which features Ailyn, is also amazing and sets the up the tone and expectation for the CD, as a first track should. The second piece, “The Illusion of Eternity” is also very familiar and another highlight for me.

The finale, “Doomsday” is a little anti-climactic after all the excitement that comes before it, but it is by no means a weak song at all; I had just wished for a more rousing finish.

This Mistheria dude, though – what a visionary! I had never heard of him before this but this release demonstrates that he has big ideas and can definitely pull them off. You can learn more about him here at his website. He is also an accomplished organist, and there are pipe organ sections throughout the CD that add to the classiness of the sound.

Pulling together so many international names and talents could not have been an easy feat, but it all works together so well. This is a seamlessly-produced and high quality release that will tickle the musical palates of anyone that is a fan of neoclassical metal, symphonic power metal, and classical music buffs alike. I found it very delightful and I really enjoyed the metal re-imagining of a piece of music that had a huge impact on me when I was a youth. Congratulations to Mistheria and all involved in The Vivaldi Metal Project for pulling off something so spectacular.

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