This has to be one of my favorite reviews of all time, no joke. Fantasy Opus, a power/heavy metal band from Portugal, of all places, has managed to put out an album that tops all power metal albums in my collection, including Hammerfall's Crimson Thunder and all of Firewind's albums. The band consists of two guitarist, a dedicated lead vocalist, a bassist and a drummer, and they work together quite well, making this album epic, catchy, and amazing on so many different levels.
Beyond Eternity is comprised of 8 songs, four of them being separate songs, while the last four make up one big song called "The Warrior's Call". Fantasy Opus thunders out of the gates with "Mystic Messenger", a song which seems to have thrash influences in it. The drummer is extremely talented, and the double bass blazes through your ears until the end of the song. The guitarists are also very talented, and solos are plentiful. But hold on. I can hear you already, some of you are screaming, "AHHH! YNGWIE-MALMSTEEN-WANKER-CLONES!" This is not the case. Claudio and Marcus both pick and choose their solos wisely, and the result is a mature playing style that defies the stereotype of most power metal. Now here is the real shocker: the bass is clearly audible! Not only that, he is quite good. The vocals are just epic. The only person I can compare him to is Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden, but only because of his range. Pedro Arroja's voice soars into operatic high notes, and his midrange vocals pack quite a punch too. On this song, it's truly hard not to sing along to the chorus.
Next up is "The Sacred Trilogy". Fantasy Opus moves away from their thrashy influences on this song, going with a more power/prog sound. The double kicks are once again stunning, and the beginning riff is ever so catchy. This is probably my least favorite track on the CD, however, only because the riffing in this song is so similar to the next song, "Path of Destiny". That being said, "The Sacred Trilogy" and "Path of Destiny" are very worth a listen, if only to hear Arroja's wonderful operatic voice and the very catchy riffing.
The final song before the four part epic is "Higher State of Mind", which is the ballad on this CD. This is one of two songs on the CD to actually beat "Mystic Messenger" in overall quality. Starting off with an acoustic guitar/piano dual, the vocals shine greatly on this song, mainly because they are complemented by the keys and acoustic guitar. The song is truly beautiful, something I don't normally say about most bands. Props right there to Fantasy Opus, good job guys.
And finally, "Warrior's Call", the so called epic of the CD. It is divided into four parts: "Chapter I-The Lament", "Chapter II-The Warrior's Call", "Chapter III-The Gathering-The Battle-Liberation", and "Chapter IV-The New Dawn". Chapter I starts out with a soft piano solo complemented by orchestration and a twelve string (as far as I could tell) acoustic guitar/six string nylon guitar. About halfway through, however, the power metal inside them kicks in, and they rise to new heights of soloing madness. The song flows straight into Chapter II, which is probably the fastest song here, being close to or over 200 BPM. The song is a host to a very nice solo, arguably the best on the CD. And then, the grand opus (pardon the pun) of Beyond Eternity, Chapter III. Clocking in at 9:37, this masterpiece holds quite a few gems. The bass has a very large part in the song, the soloing is tied with the previous song for quality, and the beginning intro is in a different class in and of itself. Lastly, Chapter IV, a very interesting song in my opinion. The first 15-20 seconds or so are done a capella (for the non-music buffs, a capella means without music). The rest of the song is done in a fast, almost thrashy style.
Overall, this album is AMAZING. In the days ahead, the metal world is sure to be graced with a more mature, refined, and better than ever Fantasy Opus.