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Magni Animi Viri - 2007 - "Heroes Tempores"

(63:54 / 'MAV')


TRACK LIST:                                 
1.  Colonna Sonnora 3:05 
2.  Heroes 4:13 
3.  Temporis 4:34 
4.  Intus 0:58 
5.  Finche 4:28 
6.  Pensieri 4:37 
7.  Tertia Vioilia 0:22 
8.  Mai Piv 5:17 
9.  Desertanima 4:35 
10. Vorrei 4:45 
11. Come Un Falco 4:50 
12. Uritur 0:29 
13. Sai Cose 3:33 
14. Immenso 4:17 
15. Fortis 4:20 
16. Senza Respiro 4:02 
17. Outro 2:33 
18. CS Instrumental 2:34


Luca Contegiacomo - keyboards, piano
Giancarlo Trotta - keyboards, Moog
Francesco Napoletano - vocals
Ivana Giugliano - vocals
Marco Sfogli - guitars
John Macaluso - drums
Roberto D'Aquino - bass
Randy Coven - bass
Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra
Operatic choir

Prolusion. Organized by two Italian keyboardists and songwriters, Luca Contegiacomo and Giancarlo Trotta, MAGNI ANIMI VIRI is a grandiose project embracing a rock group (of the same name), a large symphonic orchestra and a 100-strong mixed operatic choir. "Heroes Tempores" is the first brainchild of this unusual formation. I can imagine what a gigantic amount of money has been put up in this musical adventure.

Analysis. Half of the members of the band as such have been playing with some famous 'guitar heroes', among which the works of Yngvie Malmsteen, Steve Vai and Alex Masi are all familiar to me not through hearsay. So the first thought which crossed my mind before I put this CD into my player, was that the music would be imbued with guitar pyrotechnics. There are indeed some virtuoso guitar solos to be found on the album, though by no means as many as I expected, the project's rock constituent generally appearing to be a secondary rather than primary driving motive here. Just as an instance, listeners will not hear any truly expressive keyboard leads until they get to the fifteenth track, Fortis. The band's overall playing is decent, but they very rarely rise above the basic material, unlike some of the other participants - to be named in due time. One way or another, "Heroes Tempores" is a creation whose absolute stylistically compositional uniformity allows its explorer to describe it by citing literally a couple of examples. Not taking into consideration the three shortest cuts, Intus, Tertia Vioilia and Uritur (the latter two each lasting for less than half a minute, featuring nothing besides effects), the core of the music is in all cases conventional Hard Rock / Metal led by Marco Sfogli's chugging guitar riffs. The two lead vocalists, Francesco Napoletano and Ivana Giugliano (who more often alternate with each other than share the leads within the same song), each is possessed of a highly impressive voice, Francesco being a professional operatic singer, but nevertheless what makes this recording sound special or, to be more precise, what differentiates it from a traditional Musical is the operatic choir, but even more the symphonic orchestra which generally comes across as the most, if not the only, progressive voice in this act. Three of the disc's eighteen tracks, Finche, Desertanima, Sai Cose and Immenso, would perfectly suit any rock ballad collection, as also would the only instrumental piece, Outro. Well, one more tune here, the concluding track CS Instrumental, is also free of any lyrical content, but I could have easily omitted it, since this is nothing other than the opening number Colonna Sonnora, just with the narration being removed from the mix.

Conclusion. That being said, "Heroes Tempores" is Song Opera rather than Rock Opera, compared to which Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's "Jesus Christ Superstar" would be something boundlessly progressive. Besides, the invariably dramatically heroic character of the music makes the CD sound with a certain sameness throughout. I don't know if Magni Animi Viri's goal is a major label deal, but such key players on the today's prog market as Inside Out Music might want to have them on board. Only bearing in mind the painstaking effort that all the project's participants have put into their creation, I gave it the rating I gave.

VM: September 26, 2007

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