REVIEW: MARIUS DANIELSEN – “Legend Of Valley Doom”
If you were to ask me to compile a dream lineup for a metal opera, you’d likely get a list including vocalists Edu Falaschi (ex-Angra, Almah), Elisa C. Martin (Hamka, ex-Dark Moor, ex-Fairyland), and Jonas Heidgert (Dragonland); guitarists Timo Tolkki (ex-Stratovarius, Avalon), Chris Caffery (Savatage, Trans-Siberian Orchestra), and Jimmy Hedlund (Falconer); bassists Barend Courbois (Blind Guardian) and Mike LePond (Symphony X); and on drums, Alex Holzwarth (Rhapsody of Fire). How about we throw some wild cards in there like Alessio Lucatti (Vision Divine, Etherna) on synth, and the up-and-coming vocal prodigy, John Yelland (Disforia, Judicator) just because I can. To top it off, Piet Sielck (Iron Savior) would have to mix and master the album because… well it’s Piet Sielck.
This is quite literally a lineup of my dreams. However, earlier this year I found out that this isn’t a dream, and there is a project out there including these musicians, and many more (over 30) creating an epic metal opera about a kingdom called Valley Doom.
If Kai Hansen was indeed right, and what we need right now, is a miracle on our power metal Earth, Marius Danielsen’s Legend of Valley Doom is that miracle. Power metal fans, rejoice, you are not dreaming. There is a new name out there taking the concept that Avantasia utilized in the early 2000’s; bringing together names from all around the rock and heavy metal world into a solid metal opera with an epic story, and equally epic delivery. However, this project not only showcases the well known names, it also promotes the equally hard working underrated bands of the genre, helping to spread the word of these talented individuals to fans all over the world. Needless to say, this is absolutely something I can get behind, and the delivery did not disappoint.
The Norwegian mastermind behind this project, Marius Danielsen, is the vocalist and guitarist of heavy metal band Darkest Sins (other members of this band can be found throughout Legend of Valley Doom as well). From the massive physical size of the project, and the extensive story behind Valley Doom, this is obviously a project that is many, many years in the making. But let’s get down to the details of the music here. As expected, there is a building intro track, aptly titled “Intro” that lasts a bit over a minute, before quite literally crashing into “The Battle of Bargor-Zun”. The most refreshing part of this song is the driving drums, and the initial (incorrect) moment of “Wait, is that Bruce Dickinson?” but the excitement continues to build, as the story of Valley Doom and the Dark Lord is introduced.
If you love massive, epic albums, that not only give you amazing metal to listen to and love, but a fabulous and entertaining story to follow along as well, you will not be disappointed. The album continues to tell the tale of the prophecies of the savior in “Prophecy of the Warrior King” and “Chamber of Wisdom” in such a power metal fashion that even Rhapsody would be impressed with. We’re talking fantastic layered choruses, heavy riffs and solos, and lyrics full of magic, destiny, and strength. Who wouldn’t love that? On a side note, the only weak point of the album is in the track “Mirror of Truth”, which takes on a very Iron Maiden-esque approach, but still remains to be repetitive and lackluster when surrounded by such epic tales.
The highlight of the album is the over fourteen-minute epic, “The Legend of Valley Doom” which features a handful of different guests, but is arranged in such a way that it feels like a single story. All I can say about that production is… well done. This is definitely my personal favorite part of the album as it moves so swiftly, the fourteen minutes fly by, and I just want to hear it all again. Also noteworthy is the track, “Raise Your Shields”, the single for the album, beginning with a fantastic power metal wail and traditional riffing. While it may be a little stripped when compared to the rest of the album, the single choice is a smart one. It is a catchy, straightforward, heavy metal tune that does a good job of displaying what the project as a whole is all about. Most importantly, it is heavy and fun, and well… any song about raising shields into battle is great in my book.
Another strong moment on the album is the album’s closing song and only ballad, “Fallen Heroes” sang by my favorite vocalist in the US power metal scene, John Yelland. While it begins as his voice over a simple, slow-tempo beat, the track builds into heavy layered vocal harmonies, and building synth, that really grows into a massive and emotional song. The cherry on top is an amazing and equally as emotional guitar solo that continues on while vocal layering repeats to a close. The transition into the outro that finishes the legend (pt. 1) is bittersweet, and I can only hope that I get to hear a sequel soon… but until then, having this on repeat with suffice.
While there are certainly some overused vocal techniques, especially when it comes to the power metal wails, and holding out high notes to the end, this project as a whole was executed extremely well. It’s unbelievable to listen to this and think that there are so many different people involved, because it really does sound like a single project. Because this project was so massive, if you want more detailed information about the artists involved, buy the album, visit the website, chat with Marius Danielsen on Facebook… but most importantly, SUPPORT THIS PROJECT. Because holy shit, it deserves it.
Raise your shields! Raise your swords! Cheers to you, Marius, for taking on such a massive project straight out of my dreams and executing it so well.