Released: 2010, Innerwound
This is the third Soulspell review I have written but oddly enough it is the debut album and Part I of Vale’s Metal Opera. I discovered Soulspell back in 2010 and I wrote a review of Part II-THE LABYRINTH OF TRUTHS back in October of that year. I said in my review I wanted to get Part I, originally on Hellion Records, but when I contacted the band they were sold out of the CD! That was annoying. Two years later, I faithfully got Part III-HOLLOW’S GATHERING, which came out in October 2012 and reviewed it in January of this year. Then I discovered that Soulspell’s current record label, Inner Wound, has reissued Part I-A LEGACY OF HONOUR. To make it even better they have redesigned the cover layout and art very slightly to visually match Part II and Part III, so this is one of the rare times when I actually prefer the reissue, to the original pressing of an album. So now, three years later, I’m writing the review of the debut album of the trilogy, just to close the circle. To fully understand the sheer magnitude of this Metal Opera, please feel free to read my other Soulspell album reviews or better yet visit their site which does a magnificent job at explaining the story.
Obviously, A LEGACY OF HONOUR is where it all began back in 2008. Writing this review after having heard the two following albums, gives me the advantage hindsight. Back when this project was started Heleno Vale ambitions were probably greater than his resources. More specifically, he had yet to develop the reputation to have so many high-profile guest stars on the pair of follow-up albums, so the debut was a strictly Brazilian affair. The project was still had a ton of people involved but none of the international Metal stars. However, the performances are still superb so that is a testament to the quality of the domestic talent in Brazil.
Assuming, that you (the reader) will read these reviews in the order the album were released we have to start at the beginning. Heleno Vale is a drummer who conceived a multi-part Metal Opera and recruited many talented local musicians to play the various roles. The booklet is not as elaborate, nor the story-line as developed, as the follow-up albums, but lyrics are included and the website really fleshes out the story and the characters. The production is top-notch under the tutelage of Tito Falaschi, who has worked with Almah, Angra and a number of other acts. The CD has nice cover art courtesy of J.P. Fournier, which as mentioned previously was altered slightly for this edition.
Classic Brazilian Power Metal is the order of the day with some symphonic flourishes and orchestrated parts, but generally it is a little more straight-ahead than the next two-parts. There are some nice tempo changes but overall the album has a good sense of pace. Driven by the guitar with lots of excellent soloing, A LEGACY OF HONOUR isn’t afraid to be Metal. Various musicians from the Brazilian some excellent individual performances in their own way, including vocals by Renato Tribuzy (Thoten, Tribuzy) Nando Fernades (Hangar) Iuri Sanson (Hibria) and many more. Even though they may not be household names in the Metal world, they are actually some of the elite of the Brazilian Power Metal scene. Predictably there are many moods and elements scattered through the album. There is some acoustic piano, male/female vocal duets, acoustic guitar and Vale writes an above average power ballad such as ‘Alexandria’ and ‘A Little too Far’ with some very nice electric guitar solos and even better acoustic guitar soloing.
Heleno Vale really burst out of nowhere onto the Metal scene with this ambitious and magnificent offering. Many artists who have done Metal Operas will have had considerable experience in an active band before tackling a project of this magnitude. For example, Tobias Sammet did lots of Edguy stuff before Avantasia. Savatage had been around for years before they tackled Rock Operas and concept albums. Timo Tolkki was in Stratovarius for years before his various attempts at Metal Operas and Arjen Lucassen did hard time in Vengeance before the Ayreon project. So for a relative unknown, Vale, (a drummer no less!) to create something this big as his first project is pretty impressive! A LEGACY OF HONOUR is a great start to the series and gives us just a glimpse at the first stages of what is to become one of the industry’s most respected multi-album Metal Operas.