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Theatre of Fate
Released: 1989, Editora Rock Brigade (re-issued since)
Hidden Gem Review
I sincerely believe that Viper should be credited with pioneering a sound that is all the rage today...epic, symphonic metal. Formed in Brazil in 1985, Viper helped create and develop a style of metal laced with stringed instruments and giant, bombastic, choiral arrangements that was recently advanced (and some say perfected) by Rhapsody.
After a very modest start and weathering the Spinal Tap syndrome of a revolving door for drummers (five by my count) Theatre of Fate (their second CD of six) was picked up for distribution by Sony's Brazilian division. Then Limb and Massacre jumped into the fray and all was set to go. The symphonic elements of Theater of Fate were largely the responsibility of Andre Matos who brought, in my mind a unique style into metal featuring heavily a string quartet as a compliment to the very speedy traditional metal sound.
Many of the components of this CD are in many ways unremarkable, a small studio, a relatively unknown producer, no budget etc...but it is what inside that counts! Denis Gulby founder of the short-lived, but well-respected Sentinel Steel fanzine, stated that Theatre of Fate is one of the greatest heavy metal discs ever made. Some early reviews pegged Viper as Brazil's Helloween. I have to agree on both counts. Theatre of Fate is truly amazing. A myriad of influences are on display with this short 35 minute disc. A short, melancholic acoustic / electric / keyboard intro lead into 7 incredible songs. Huge harmonized Queen-like choruses, blazing solos with a heavy, neo-classical, progressive style, and mid-eighties Iron Maiden style song-writing are all present. Andre's voice is high... way, way up the register, but never squeaky... and some of those pure notes he hits and holds are incredible. Check out the last scream at the end of A Cry From The Edge! Despite Matos' accent and challenges of singing in his non-native tongue the lyrics are introspective and intelligent. A stand out track in my mind is the moving, haunting, semi-ballad, Living for the Night. The song Prelude To Oblivion could fit nicely on a Rhapsody or Queen CD with the aforementioned sting arrangements really coming to fore to add the extra dynamic to the song that makes this band so special.
Matos left in '92 or so and joined Angra and all the elements that made Viper so cool went out the door with him. Viper languished through 4 more CD's of competent, bluesy-based metal but never met the promises of glory that was Theatre of Fate. I know this is a boring way to review a CD but if you like, Angra, Helloween and Rhapsody then add Viper to your must listen to list.
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