Neverland - "Ophidia" (CD)
"Ophidia" track listing:
1. This Voice Inside (5:34)
2. Silence The Wolves (5:03)
3. Ophidia (5:35)
4. Will Of God (2:57)
5. Invisible War (5:21)
6. Places Unknown (4:23)
7. No One Leaves The Hive (4:11)
8. Speak To Me (5:38)
9. Ashes To Fall (4:58)
10. Final Odyssey (4:40)
11. Forests Of Hope (1:49)
12. Dying Threads (5:28)
13. Into The Horizon (5:10)
Reviewed by Eccentricity on January 17, 2011
Neverland's sound is much like the country of Turkey from which they hail – rich, unique, and a mix of modern and classic. Their sound is best described as progressive symphonic power metal, and with their sophomore album, "Ophidia," they manage to merge these sounds pretty effectively.
The opening track "This Voice Inside" begins slowly, with a haunting, gothic feel and spoken lyrics, almost like a modern opera, but then it shifts to heavy synths and progressive dual guitars. This song, and in fact the whole album, is worth reading through the lyrics, because they tell a rich story, and the composition of "This Voice Inside" is a good one.
The next track finds them adding a more modern flair, with chugging bass and double and triple kick bass drum. "Silence The Wolves" isn't warrior metal, but it is a battle song, and though at times the vocals are rushed, overall it's got a very epic feel. The same goes for "Invisible War," which features guest vocals by Jon Oliva. The breakdown starts out a little slow, but it's short-lived and this ends up being a great progressive tune.
Personally though I think Neverland really shines when they lean toward symphonic and pastoral sounds. "Will Of God" is a beautiful piece with acoustic guitar and flutes, but I could do without Mavraki's vocals. She is renowned throughout the Aegean as a talented performer and peace bringer - in fact her idea of bringing together Turkish and Greek musicians to promote peace between these two historically volatile countries is how Neverland was formed - but Simone Simons she is not.
Something happens though on tracks six through ten, and it's not good. Suddenly there are tempo missteps, rushed vocals, confused compositions, and a sense that the band was sitting around throwing out ideas and they somehow ended up on the album by mistake. It's not that any one particular track is that awful, but for those who purchase "Ophidia," I feel sure they will skip over these songs after the initial listening.
Fortunately, Neverland throws in three bonus tracks that help make up for the confusion, and the album ends on a high note. The final track, "Into The Horizon," is an instrumental piece and may not have been the best choice for the closer, but as a thematic album it makes sense, even if the track lacks some of the luster of the first two bonus songs. The crème de la crème among the bonus songs, and in fact the entire album is "Forests Of Hope." This pastoral tune has a Highlander sing-song quality and the harpsichord is a perfect addition. I even like Mavraki's vocals here, and wish the track was longer.
Overall, Neverland's "Ophidia" is a mixed bag, but the good definitely outweighs the bad and makes this an album worthy of a listen.
Highs: Rich, robust compositions and theme make for an engaging journey.
Lows: The middle of the album is out of focus and lackluster.
Bottom line: Neverland proves with this one that Turkey can produce quality metal acts, and fans of symphonic power metal won't be disappointed.
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