Genius (A Rock Opera) - Episode One - A Human In Dreams' World
Frontiers Records
Progressive/Melodic Power Metal
11 songs (79'01)
Release year: 2002
Genius (A Rock Opera), Frontiers Records
Reviewed by Marty
Surprise of the month
Genius (A Rock Opera) - Episode One - A Human In Dreams' World, is the first release in a trilogy masterminded by the Italian guitar wizard, Daniele Liverani. For those not familiar with him, he has many solo releases and is currently with the band Empty Tremor, a progressive metal outfit. The Genius Rock Opera trilogy is based upon a story about a central character (Genius) who mistakenly gets trapped in a parallel world while dreaming. A world where our dreams are created and controlled. He has many encounters with lots of different characters as he journeys through this new existence. The concept is based on the idea that when we begin to dream, a "Twinspirit" is created and is sent to one of the "Dream Kingdoms" where they chart the course of our dreams. Genius, the main character, gets mistaken for a Twinspirit and eventually struggles to remain undetected in this alternate world. No human has ever infiltrated this world and the consequences of discovering the true origin of our dreams could be catastrophic. Along the way, he befriends another Twinspirit and together they try to elude capture.

This is truly an amazing story in itself and the fact that it's put to music in the form of a heavy metal rock opera, makes it even better. A whole cast of characters make up this weird new world and features the voices of Mark Boals, (Mark Boals, Yngwie Malmsteen), Lana Lane, Daniel Gildenlow (Pain Of Salvation), Chris Boltendahl (Grave Digger), Joe Vana (Mecca), Steve Walsh (Kansas), Oliver Hartmann (At Vance), John Wetton (King Crimson, Uriah Heep, U.K., Asia) and Midnight (ex-Crimson Glory). Narration is provided by bass virtuoso Philip Bynoe. Another truly incredible aspect of this album is that, Daniel Liverani, besides composing, arranging and co-producing this album, plays all the guitars, bass and keyboard parts. Drums are provided by Dario Ciccioni.

This album really takes on a true rock opera feel to it and uses the songs very well to tell the story. Each vocalist represents a different character, much like in the Avantasia project. But, unlike Avantasia, this album features much more instrumental work. Narration is provided at the beginning of the album and at the end of each track and is very brief and helps to explain the story as it goes. Musically, this album takes on a melodic but progressive metal sound along the likes of Dream Theater or Symphony X. Daniele's guitar playing is simply amazing. I've never heard of him before but he combines the best of Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Satriani and John Petrucci (Dream Theater) to create a big sound that is rich in melody, heavy on the speedy riffs and manages some truly wonderful off-beat and choppy guitar licks. Some highlights: The first track Without Me Today begins with a very thematic riff structure, some great lead playing and the introduction of the main character as performed by Mark Boals. The Right Place features some great vocal work by Lana Lane who is one of the 2 Gatekeepers he meets along the way. Daniel Gildenlow provides the voice for one of the Twinspirits, "Twinspirit 32" who becomes friends with Genius on Paradox. Chris Boltendahl provides the growly, gravelly voice of the Stationmaster who greets them after a lengthy train ride on the song The Glory Of Our Land. Steve Walsh delivers a powerful and gritty performance on the track My Pride and Midnight provides some great vocals on the wild and frenzied Terminate. All this is accompanied by choirs of voices and lots of instrumental passages

Although this album is predominantly progressive metal, lots of speedy power metal and even some more straight ahead melodic metal can be found as well. Clocking in at just over 79 minutes, there isn't one place where the story or the music failed to capture my interest. Right from the first listen, I was drawn into this story and I found myself not being able to put it away. There's so many wonderful instrumental sections with some amazing power metal riffing that it's hard to describe the whole album in great detail. When the third part of this is finally released, the total time for the trilogy will be just under four hours of music. In keeping with the true spirit of our actual dream world, the four hour dream by the main character actually takes place in just 10 minutes in real time. (Ever do that?...seem like you've been dreaming for hours then wake up and only 15 minutes or so have gone by?) I really like this album a lot and if I were to find any fault with any of this album, it would be the aspect that each song is very story-like and not your typical verse/chorus/verse/chorus etc. song style. This aspect makes it difficult to just select a few tracks to listen to, you pretty much have to listen to the whole thing together. Not a real problem though if you're like me and love this sort of conceptual stuff.

I highly recommend this album, it takes a few listens although the story aspects capture your interest right away. One of the best things about all this is that there will be 2 more of these (Parts 2 and 3) and if they live up to the quality of this one, then we're in for another fine example, along with the likes of Avantasia, Ayreon, Star One etc. of how heavy metal music, with an ensemble of many different voices and with it's pure power and emotion, can be used to tell some truly amazing conceptual stories. Check out this link to the homepage for the Genius Rock Opera and read the story, for it in itself is a great piece of fantasy fiction.

Killing Songs :
Without Me Today, Paradox, My Pride, There's A Human and Terminate
Marty quoted 84 / 100
Other albums by Genius (A Rock Opera) that we have reviewed:
Genius (A Rock Opera) - Episode 2: In Search of the Little Prince reviewed by Keegan and quoted 80 / 100
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