Friday, April 5, 2013

Beto Vazquez Infinity (2001)

I acquired this album the same time as Andre Matos' "Time to be Free". I'm not sure why I bought it, I think it must have been receiving good reviews, but for some reason upon receiving it I never really listened to it. Or, come to think of it, Andre Matos' either. This was absolutely foolish of me, because I either forgot, or didn't realise, it has Tarja Turunen (ex-Nightwish) on vocals, along with Candice Night (Blackmore's Night), Sabine Edelsbacher (Edenbridge) and Fabio Lione (Rhapsody) on it . It also appears to be a concept album.

Beto Vazquez is an Argentinian musician who was with a band called Nepal. When they broke up, he looked for other creative geniuses to help him with his epic scale project, and this was the first album.

The cover is pretty boring and very green. It appears to depict the band - or at least a group of people, off-centre and small enough that all can fit beneath one finger. They are standing under a ray of light. The rest is vast and empty and... green. The interior booket is printed in green on black in a teeny tiny font, which also makes it very hard to read.

This is a concept album and therefore there is a plot. Like all good power metal/symphonic concept albums, it's a bit cheesy. I think. Let me see if I can summarise it:

There is a wizard, who bids farewell to "a girl" as he enters into the leafy forest of Valmourt. While he is away, a Dark King (Sleetor) sends his hosts to inade Zlord*, which I imagine is the good guy's kingdom. They destroy all in their way and kidnap the girl. Who has golden hair, by the way. The wizard returns to find all is in ruins and the king is lonely. The good king, I imagine. The captain of the guard has also been captured and taken, so obviously Dark King Sleetor is starting a collection. A strange cloud covers the valley. Distressed and confused, the wizard locks himself away, his thoughts no longer his own. This seems to somehow affect the magic of the kingdom.

Seven brave souls decide to help their king. They look for the wizard and find a broken magician instead. The only way to restore the wizard's mind is to find the golden haired girl of his past.  They then head off to rescue the captain of the guard. No mention is made of the girl again, so perhaps she IS the captain of the guard. But the hosts of Sleetor aren't happy, and charge Zlord once more. It looks like the bad guys will win, but then the good guys triumph and peace is found.

I think this summary may have lost something in the translation.

Let's see how the storyline is told in music, shall we?

The album opens with "Until Dawn (Angels of Light)". Soothing neo-classical music with Tarja's distinctly Nightwish-esque vocals, her voice soaring like an angel of light; wordless and pure. The keyboards add a somewhat 80s sound. Her clear, angelic voice mourns "my life, my king and my land..." Melancholic, melodic and quite exquisite. Like crystal, pure and sharp.

"Wizard" follows, with what sounds like some sort of traditional wind instrument, but is perhaps a keyboard. Slow, sorrowful, somber. Judging by the lyrics, the wizard is already trapped in his enchantment, and I can imagine a cloaked lass walking the empty, dusty chambers, running her fingers across strange objects of an arcane nature as she tries to understand what has happened and how she can "break the spell and free him from himself..." Oooh, harpsichord. Tarja is joined by Sabine here. Tarja's voice is a little more ethereal, fleeting like the dusty cobwebs that trail from the curtains and skeletons and other wizardly adornments.

Bombastic keyboard begins "The Battle of the Past", which makes sense because Fabio Lione (is that his real name?) of Rhapsody** fame. Hrm, he was also in Labyrinth. The only male vocalist on the album, this song is the heaviest, being pure power.

Another slow and rather maudlin piece, "Sadness in the Night" has Tarja trapped in darkness praying for death and the return of the light.

The next few tracks are all classified in a set called "Voyagers in Time". The lyrics are in the centre of the booklet, using a gatefold technique instead of the booklet style. It opens with an instrumental "Through Times I" with flutes and etheral, ghostly melodies and is followed by "Through Times II" in which Candice Night takes vocal honours.Lots of harpsichord/keyboards and flutes lead a haunting, folkish edge.

"Golden Hair", also with Candice, is sweet and innocent in vocals, even if the lyrics are somewhat more sinister. The army is coming - and likely to overpower them. She is the Golden Queen and also the leader of the army, leading them to victory.

Followed by "Infinity Space", which as a sligthly spacy feel - but that might just be the keyboards and the drums which are more dramatic here.Not surprising, given guitarist Pablo Soler is one of the fastest in Argentina. And there he goes! How many fingers does this man have? Touch of Malmsteen, anyone?

There is more flute and Candice in "Through Times III", along with a touch of sax.

Sabine's doing the vocals in "The Laws of the Future", with Tarja backing her. Tarja's voice is higher and with more of an opera trill to it. I'm not sure whose I prefer. The two entertwine together, like two beautiful birds darting and weaving around each other.

For "Promises Under the Rain", each of the three lovely ladies takes a turn on vocals. The music has a symphonic sound to it, very reminiscent of Nightwish, with choral harmonies. The ladies take turns singing verses, and it's fun to try and pick out who is who. Beautiful song, and a lovely way to end the album.

This album is certainly a pleasant one - it features three of the finest female vocalists on the metal scene and the music is serene and quite soothing with a few heavier moments. Overall, it makes for relatively easy listening, but the packaging and general design somewhat lacks in passion and inspiration.

I shall have to give it a 7/10.

Not sure who to listen to for C! I should make it something entirely different and interesting... Nick Cave, perhaps?

* Who thinks up these names?
** As an aside, he also indulged in a little Eurobeat and did this rather horrendous song "Eye of the Tiger". Which sadly is not a cover of the Survivor classic.

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