Vivaldi, one of the master composer in classical music, one of the best Italian composer from the 18th century. If we have to cite a composition that everybody knows without even been to cite is certainly “the Four Seasons” that almost everyone knows by hearing the tunes.
If you have followed my blog for a while, you will have noticed my passion for both metal music and for the classical. For a long time, you either had to listen to metal or to listen to classical, as these two genres were considered non-soluble into each other. However some metal legends got their inspiration from classical music.
Take for instance Yngwie Malmsteen, the virtuoso of metal that came from a family of classical music and brillantly infused this classical music into metal. Or take for example Nightwish, maybe the first metal band to have Tarja Turjunen, a professional mezzo-soprano front that brought the opera lyric and the guitar riffs, bass shreds and drums into a beautiful blend and paved the way to a whole genre in the metal scene named “Symphonic Metal”.
Today we are celebrating the 275th death anniversary of Vivaldi, just in time to review the album “The Four Seasons” released a week ago from a project named “The Vivaldi Metal Project”. This is a 14 track albums that get inspired by the original “Four Seasons” by Vivaldi. This project has been involving a lot of musicians from the metal genre, for instance Ailyn (ex-Sirenia) or Fabio Lione (Rhapsody of Fire). One of the caveat (at least from the digital version I obtained from iTunes) is the lack of booklet that let us know the contribution of which artists into each track. You can guess the vocals behind some, but not all.
The album per se does follow the same order than the original “Four Seasons” (Spring/Summer/Fall and Winter),except the first track “Escape From Hell” that can be considered as prelude track. I will use the original sequence and name the tracks matching.
We start then with the “Illusion of Eternity” that starts not too heavy and progressively become heavier but very dynamic. This is followed by “Vita” that constitutes the second part of Spring, a very nice guitar solo that reminds me some work by Yngwie Malmsteen, followed by a male tenor voice and the heavy layer giving a nice blending to Vivaldi’s original composition. Finally, we conclude the Spring act with “Euphoria” that is not much heavy and very orchestral but I found flourishing well the original track from Vivaldi.
Summer is in my favorite act of Vivaldi’s composition in the Four Seasons, bringing this dynamic and fast tones that nicely matches to metal songs. This startz with “Sun of God”, a solo piano version followed by heavy guitars with a duel male and female front voices, I particularly liked the duet violin and guitar that marks the nice blending of the bold and the beautiful. “Immortal Soul”, sounds like a melodic metal ballad but maybe deviates more from the original track than other tracks, going into its own inspirations. “Thunderstorm” takes the end third part of the act, further emphasizing the original boldness with fast-paced guitars and keyboards, giving the frenzy of a summer thunderstorm, amplyfing the boldness and majesticness of the original composition.
Certainly the best part of the album, well arranged and orchestrated. If you had to pick tracks, this is the one to pick.
“The Age of Dreams” brings on the opening sequence of the third act, this is one of my least favorite track, as I found the blending not the best and maybe too much overplayed. “Alchemy” and “Stige” are somehow confusing in my ears because they give me the hardest time to place them track-to-track with the original composition.
Winter is brought nicely by “The Meaning of Life” starting with a nice guitar solo supported by bass and nicely incorporating the violin as interludes. “The Final Hour” feels like out of place. “Grande Madre” deviates a lot of the original piece but gives a nice metal track. Finally, we end with “Doomsday”, also deviating from the original score a lot, making the connection difficult with the original material.
Overall, I found it was a nice try but I felt something was missing, sometimes I felt it was too much arranged, giving this overprocessed feeling making it too much to appreciate. Something that Yngwie was indeed capable to finely coordinate in his masterpiece “Icarus’ Dream Suite” in which he fronted a whole philarmonic orchestra with his guitar. You cannot beat Yngwie in that game. If Beethoven has reincarnated in a modern musician, it would be certainly be Yngwie.
I found this album can show to a lay audience that metal and classical music are indeed sharing a lot of commonalities behind distinct appearances. If you want to give a try on how a classical music would sound in accessible metal, try this album. If you are indeed already a classical audiophile and seasoned metal, then Yngwie remains in my own opinion the gold standard.