Heleno Vale – Soulspell Metal Opera
Interviewed by JP
Soulspell Metal Opera is a Brazilian Heavy Metal project led by drummer Heleno Vale. The project’s first album A LEGACY OF HONOR was released in 2008 followed by the second album THE LABYRINTH OF TRUTHS in 2010. The project has appearances from from metal heavyweights such as Roland Grapow (ex-Helloween and Masterplan), Zak Stevens (Circle II Circle, ex-Savatage), Jon Oliva (TSO, ex-Savatage), Blaze Bayley (ex-Iron Maiden), Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens (Yngwie Malmsteen, ex-Judas Priest, ex-Iced Earth, etc.) and some great Brazilian names like Edu Falaschi (Angra) and Nando Fernandes (Hangar). We recently spoke to Heleno Vale, the mastermind behind this interesting and ambitious project.
When you started as a young musician did you ever feel you would create something so ambitious?
No, I had the idea of starting the project, but I could never imagine it would be as big as it is today. I’m really happy with the result and I hope we grow even more.
It’s not common for drummers to be the creative driving force of a band. Do you play any other instruments? Are you classically trained in composition and arrangement?
I normally say that I’m not a drummer (haha). I started my musical education by learning the piano when I was twelve. Then I moved to the guitar and bass. I don’t have any other musical background and I studied composition and arrangement while learning to play the instruments. Lars Ulrich and Mike Portnoy are 2 great band leaders and they are drummers.
What kind of drums do you play and what kind of set-up do you have?
Nowadays I have a Mapex drum with 18"x22" Bass Drum, 18"x22" Bass Drum, Odery Master Snare Drum, 7"x8" Tom Tom, 8"x10" Tom Tom, 9"x12" Tom Tom, 10"x13" Tom Tom, 14"x14" Floor Tom, 16"x16" Floor Tom, Iron Cobra Twin Pedal, Gibraltar Hi-Hat Stand.
Why did you decide to create an elaborate multi-part Metal Opera instead of a collection of songs?
I actually had the idea to start the project when a friend of mine told me a true story that happened to him about some visions he had while traveling to the countryside of Brazil. I found the story very interesting and decided to add some fiction to it and write a complete story about it. As almost
everything in my life is related to music, I decided to compose a metal opera, where each character of the story wound be interpreted by a singer. So that’s how the project was born.
After the success of A LEGACY OF HONOUR did it get easier to recruit the international talent on display on LABYRINTH OF TRUTHS?
Yes, it was much easier to get the participation for the second album. Although I did not try to get them for the first album, as the idea was to have only Brazilian names on it. By the time I had finished recording the first album, I had many contacts of many people and the project was already known by many people.
Did you get a chance to work with any of the international artists in the studio?
Yes. But I prefer to keep it a secret.
Who were you most excited to work with?
I was honestly very excited to work with each one of the people who participated on both albums. I am a big fan of each one of them and they all have great talent. Of course, it is an impossible dream coming true to have both Zak Stevens and Jon Oliva, who I’ve always admired, singing on a song I
The Soulspell website is incredible and very detailed about the story and the characters of the Metal Opera. Do you design and maintain the site? Why do you feel it important to have the additional background information to the story?
As I said before, I feel it is important because that’s the base of the project. It’s essential because each song tells a little bit of the story and I think people are very visual. It’s easier to make a picture of the scene in your head when you’ve seen the characters and I think the songs touch people’s feeling if they know what they are about. The site was designed by a fan of the project and is now kept by me and him.
Can you briefly outline the concept of the Metal Opera? Can you give us a sneak preview of what Part III will be about and who might be on it?
It’s a very complex fairytale, where many singers play different characters in a story concerning the conflicts among human emotions. These characters face situations of internal conflict as they are requested for making decisions which, without their knowledge, affect and change the course of
the present, future, and even past of all the other characters. Although the story takes place in the present, many historic events are also tangled in it. Soulspell story intends to make us wonder how a fifteen-year-old boy, a powerful evil dragon, or even a simple humble lumberjack, by simply living
and believing, can interfere in the lives of all in every possible dimension.
About the third album, we have not less than Tim Ripper Owens, Blaze Bayley and Mike Vescera confirmed on it and I can tell that the songs are about the darkest part of the story, so they are also a bit heavier.
Are there any plans to release the debut album in North America? Or perhaps the pair as a set?
It is very hard to release an album after it has been released in other countries for obvious reasons, but Inner Wound has released the first album electronically in Europe and in the USA. Many European fans ask me to send them the albums. They pay via Paypal and we send it through express shipment.
Any last words?
Thanks again for the opportunity and I hope to see you soon on a Soulspell’s concert around the globe.