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Ophidia, the second album released by Turkish group Dreamtone in alliance with Greek vocalist Iris Mavraki under the Neverland heading is, as suggested by the giant snake gracing its cover, a work of serpentine complexity for listeners to get their heads around -- not only from a purely musical standpoint, given the instrumentally proficient sextet's oftentimes byzantine (and for once the geography actually matches the expression!) progressive metal, but also due to the seriously overwrought pseudo-spiritual-political lyrics Dreamtone produces in tandem with Mavraki, which, if you'll forgive another old expression, may all just sound like Greek to most listeners. All kidding aside, Ophidia is simply not for the faint of heart nor the short on time, because there's truly so much going on in its tracks that a single listen or two will simply not cut it if one is to digest the countless layers of semi-symphonic orchestration ("This Voice Inside," "Speak to Me," etc.) and folk music elements ("Will of God," "Final Odyssey," etc.) nestled within its multiple folds. Actually, if anything feels like it's missing, it's Mavraki herself, since, despite her prominent billing, she rarely steps out of a backing vocalist role (see the hippy-dippy but gratefully simple in structure "Forests of Hope"), thus leaving it to Dreamtone frontman Oganalp Canatan to run the show with his somewhat limited semi-goth baritone, and prove wrong all those who never thought they'd wish for a more traditionally histrionic power metal shrieker. Canatan's weak-link status may also explain why other guest vocalists like Tad Morose's Urban Breed ("Silence the Wolves"), Savatage's Jon Oliva ("Invisible War"), and Angra's Edu Falaschi ("Ashes to Fall") are recruited to add some color, but it's fair to say that they too ultimately get lost in the gratuitous kaleidoscope of sound polluting these grooves beyond repair. In the end, the best thing one can say about Ophidia is that it's never anything less than intriguing, but there's still a great sense of relief when it finally runs its course.

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