Album review: HEART HEALER – The Metal Opera by Magnus Karlsson

Frontiers Records [release date 12.03.21]

Magnus Karlsson needs no introduction. Neither do the (all female) vocalists who grace Heart Healer.

Apparently a “Metal Opera” has been something of an ambition of Karlsson’s for some time. The idea is not new of course. Avantasia, Savatage, Epica and others are leading exponents of the style.

In the manner of classical opera, Heart Healer has seven lead vocalists. That in itself, doesn’t lead to us into deep wells of emotion and pathos. Yes, there is a strong lyrical theme, but if we’re honest, the idea of “the concept album” is often simply to create a hook to hang the songs on.

What we get is entertainment. This is an album, a suite indeed, of Symphonic Metal accessibility…filled with track upon track of rock and metal immediacy.

Berklee College graduate, Adrienne (Seven Spires) Cowan has an amazing vocal range and can switch styles in an instant. No surprise she takes the first solo lead, on opening track ‘Awake’. It’s beautifully composed and orchestrated – more movie musical than opera – and in places it’s softer, more muted than you might expect from an artist with a distinct metal and hard rock background.

There are many highpoints to choose from. The ultra anthemic ‘Who Can Stand Alone’, performed by Anette Olzon and Adrienne, is probably one of the outstanding melodic metal moments on the album. And ‘Come Out Of The Shadows’, where the voices of Youmna Jreisatti, Netta Laurenne and Margarita Monet rise above the slick, symphonic swell, isn’t far behind.

Throughout, you can visualise Karlsson striding onto a huge Symphonic Metal soundscape, wielding a rich pallette of many musical colours. And yet, it never suffers from sensory overload. Each track carries it’s own dynamic weight. Each arrangement is tailored to suit the song. He shows a pleasing lightness of touch on ‘When The Fire Burns Out’ (sensitively sung by Netta), while ‘Evil Is Around The Corner’ (Noora Lohimo and Adrienne) and ‘Mesmerise’ (Anette) show their operatic metal teeth, each one gilded with an insanely catchy hook, using the bite and sting of riffed up chordshifts to toughen up the orchestration, and the sound of Timpanis to pound out the meter.

The album has a constant pulse, and a momentum. It just keeps moving forward. It’s
a sonic calling card. If the next Hollywood epic can’t get Newman, Zimmer or Elfman to sign up, they now know where to turn. ****

Review by Brian McGowan

Josh Taerk’s latest Sunday Session was streamed on Sunday 17 July.

Check out previous videos here:

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 GMT, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 24 July 2022.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020 and 2021 Finalist) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 GMT as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 26 July 2022.

How to Listen Live?

Click the programming image at the top of the page (top right of page if using desktop)

Listen via Windows Media Player. Click or tap here and “open file”
Listen via other media player (eg. VLC) Click or tap here and “open file”

Get Ready to ROCK! Radio is also in iTunes under Internet Radio/Classic Rock
Listen in via the Tunein app and search for “Get Ready to ROCK!” and save as favourite.

More information and links at our radio website where you can listen again to shows via the presenter pages:

Power Plays w/c 8 August 2022 (Mon-Fri)
BORN LOST Take Time (Mouthpiece) (Revolver Records)
JAIME KYLE Driving With The Brakes On (Conquest Music)
SCARLET DORN Born To Suffer (SPV Recordings)
HOLDING ABSENCE Coffin (Sharptone Records)
TYRANNOSAURUS NEBULOUS Get Some (Echoed Past Records)
KROOKED TONGUE When The Beaches Bleed (indie)
SKYPILOT Knifed On The Beach (The Distortion Project)

Featured Albums w/c 8 August (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 LESSMAN VOSS Rock Is Our Religion (Atomic Fire Records)
12:00-13:00 H.E.A.T. Force Majeure (earMUSIC)
14:00-16:00 THE SLAMBOVIAN CIRCUS OF DREAMS A Very Unusual Head (indie)

Popular (last 30 days)

This entry was posted in ALBUM REVIEWS, ALBUM REVIEWS (Mobile), ALL POSTS, PURE METAL (All posts), Pure Metal/Album reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply