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The Absloute Man
August 2001
Released: 2001, Magna Carta
Rating: 4.2/5
Reviewer: Rick

Fans of the Rock/Metal Opera take note. Renaissance painting genius Leonardo DaVinci is the latest subject to be explored in this format which see numerous vocalists act out their specific characters set to, what is in this case, progressive rock/metal. First to set out the cast:

Leonardo da Vinci - James LaBrie , Ser Piero da Vinci - Davey Pattison, Caterina - Michelle Young, Lorenzo de' Medici - Josh Pincus, Mona Lisa - Lisa Bouchelle, Melzi - Mike Baker, Verrochio - Trent Gardner, Salai - Robert Berry, Calco - Steve Walsh, Sforza - Chris Shryack Francois 1 - Bret Douglas. These are the voices which bring the characters to life. They however would be nothing without the musicians who breathe life into the compositions. The Musicians: Trent Gardner - keyboards and trombone, Wayne Gardner - guitar, Jeremy Colson - drums. Patrick Reyes - guitar, Steve Reyes - bass.

OK now that all the introductions are out of the way Lets see what this is all about. LEAONARDO: THE ABSOLUTE MAN is the brainchild of Magna Carta label head Peter Morticelli. To make his vision a reality he placed the daunting task into the hands of Trent Gardner (Magellan, Explorers Club). Not content to just retell the story of Leonardo, Gardner did extensive research into the life of DiVinci to see if he could find out about the man behind the art. Using his relationships as well as other historically accurate information Gardiner set about creating a progressive metal opera that would look into DiVinci’s life both the public and the private.

This Cd is 18 tracks long but well over half are instrumental tracks and interludes that help to set the mood. This album is described in the promo material I have as "a mix of cinematic progressive rock, symphonic rock, progressive pop and progressive metal, graced and articulated by true classical music and the theatrical scope of state-of -the-art soundtrack or dramatic stage music." It indeed does sound like a movie score at times. Big and bombastic at times while soft and atmospheric at others. Opening track "Apparition" is one of those movie score tracks that sounds like it should be in some historical action adventures. "Mona Lisa" is one of the best tracks on the disc and is preformed for the most part by James LaBrie and Leonardo DiVinci. He is joined by "Melzi", Mike Baker, "Caterina" , Michelle Young, and "Verrochio" ,Trent Gardner. The chorus of the song has a strong QUEEN influence with its bombastic chorus similar to "Bohemian Rhapsody". "First Commission" is another great track focussing on the strong vocals of Michelle Young and Steve Walsh. This is an acoustic song which contrasts perfectly with some of the more bombastic tracks on the CD. James LaBrie and Lisa Bouchelle give their best performance of the release on "This Time, This Way. This is an duet between Mona Lisa and DiVince. and almost seems like a continuation of the thoughts from "Moma Lisa". Not only was DiVinci a great artist he was also a gifted inventor and scientist. DiVinci’s design of weapons is explored in the track "Inventions". I know I have used to term bombastic elsewhere in this review but no where is it more appropriate than on the CD closer "End of The World". Though this song is only 2 minutes long it is a totally over the top in terms of vocal layering and is the perfect ending to such a grand disc.

LEAONARDO: THE ABSOLUTE MAN can be listened to in a couple of ways. First, you could just program in all the full songs and leave out all the short instrumental pieces. The songs all stand on their own and need not be played as part of the whole to be enjoyable. OR The CD can be played from beginning to end so that the whole story may be absorbed as it was meant to be. It is a roller coaster ride of emotions and information from the life of one of the greatest if not THE greatest artist the world has ever known.
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