Released: 2000, Drakkar
This CD is a brilliant piece of music on par with Yngwie J. Malmsteens Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra in E Flat Minor. Opus: I-The Millennium Suite. The concept is the same the marriage of a symphonic piece of music with blazing metal guitar.
Victor Smolski is the guitarist for Rage and the son of the composer Smolski and he has created a very interesting piece of work. This is simply more than classical renditions of metal songs like Metallica’s S&M, this is a comprehensive story told in an original piece of music performed by the White Russian Symphony Orchestra.
The heretic is a concept album of sorts based on the Inquisition as instituted by the papacy in 1233 led by Pope Gregory the Ninth. The concept of the Inquisition and so on is not new in metal it has been touched on by many, many bands and was even the topic of a full King Diamond album. What stands this apart is not based on fiction but contains narration taken from actual medieval texts! But wait…. It gets even cooler. Smolksi brings his cosmopolitan buddies from Rage along having them do the narration. Peavy of course reads from the texts in Germany and Mike Terrana deep majestic voice provides the English narration. If he ever puts down the drumsticks he has a career doing voice work in Hollywood. His narration can be heard on the first Metalium CD, and the first Genius CD by Liverani.
This CD is seven tracks long with songs ranging from three minutes with three of them clocking in at over seven minutes. As expected, the packaging and production are flawless. Lots of cool pictures and scripts so you can read along with the narration. The cover is bit dull perhaps with a close-up of Smolski holding a guitar and looking out from a wall of computer generated flames but the symbolism will not be lost on you.
In all fairness this is not heavy metal. It is bombastic, triumphant classical music. If you are familiar with the genre it sounds very ‘Russian’ no surprise and at times it reminded me of interpretations of a piece best know to the world as Peter and The Wolf. The metal element is found in Smolski world-class playing. His work needs the tone, tempo and atmosphere of each piece, especially in the opening cut ‘Baptism of Fire’ where his work represents the flames of persecution raging across Europe like wildfire!
My favorite cut was track five, ‘ Witches Hammer’ . It has Mike Terrana in his deep, ominous voice reading from the text of the Malleus Malificarium, the actual witch hunters manual whose title literally means Witches Hammer. His discussions of techniques torture backed with blazing guitar and the Orchestra (From Belarus) work leaves a strong impression.
For those who don’t mind stepping outside the conventions of traditional metal this is highly worth your time. Visit http://www.victorsmolski.de
for more details.