- Album Reviews

Richard Campbell – Frankenstein

There’s a very special place in the depths of my big metalhead`s heart, reserved for certain things that just make me crazy: Books, Music and Theatre. I never imagined I would find something that would satisfy my three passions together. Frankenstein, by Richard Campbell, has just blow my mind from the first moment, and will take forever to break the spell that has come upon me.
Richard Campbell is a british multi-instrument, learned to play the piano as a child, and from there, he felt an insatiable musical hunger and kept playing different instruments, to develop the skills that today shows. He has played drums, bass, keyboards and guitar with several bands and in 2009 he decided to go alone with his own studio. Then in 2010, he released his first solo album Orpheus, A Rock Opera, and after two years of waiting, Campbell returns with his unmistakable glorious and passionate style, and show us an album which I dare to call a masterpiece of progressive metal.
I personally thank the fact that Mr Campbell writes, composes and produces all of his music, because when this happens, the final product is filled in every second of the artist’s soul, making the listening a very touching experience. Frankenstein is a rock opera based on the classic gothic novel published in 1818 by the British author Mary Shelley, a book that tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young man that wants create life, to deal with the death of his loved ones and about his terror when he gets confronted with the ugliness of his creation, about the irresponsible abandonment of creation and all the problems and catastrophes resulting therefrom. A sad and powerful story and at certain points even romantic. The album itself is a very good reflection of the torrent of emotions of the book, in its lyrics and in its musical structure.

Campbell has hired four magnificent singers to play the different roles. Tamás Csemez as Victor Frankenstein, Tom Boon as Robert Walton, J T Eaton as The Creature and the lovely Alexandra Martin as Elizabeth. The opening track, Beyond the Night is a truly beautiful, theatrical, powerful, and sort of desperate song that reveals us at the first note the big emotional charge that this story tells. It’s a one way trip, my friends, embark once and it will be hard to scape. Then comes The Modern Prometheus, very Dream Theater, with a solid bass and a melodic guitar that seems to cry out loud. In The Spark of Life I just fell in love with the song. The atmosphere created by the keyboard is simply hypnotizing, it happens too in The house of Sorrow , a somber and beautiful song, that evokes a long, dark hallway without exit. It’s hard to not recall the great master Andrew Lloyd Weber, and to not imagine a Broadway Theater in the 70’s crowded of elegant people. Well, this is somehow a big fantasy of yours truly, because these elegant people probably won’t bear the powerful riffs and disturbing emotion of The Modern Prometheus or Shadow of the Beast.

One of the best tracks on the album is Fallen Angel. It begins with an emotionally and technically dark piano melody, and the intriguing voice of JT Eaton gives life to “The Creature”, full of sadness and anger at being abandoned by its creator. The song is literally a roller-coaster of emotions, from fear to anger and despair to the deepest sadness. If you have a heart, you’ll feel it. Enslaved shows us again the great bassist that Mr Campbell has become trough the years, very technique, very harmonic. The Veil gives us a magnificent interpretation of Campbell on acoustic guitar and piano, and a great duet between Elizabeth (Alexandra Martin) and Frankenstein himself. Retribution and Walton’s Reprise are the perfect way to culminate a rock opera, they just pour emotion and power.The last song stand out in this marvelous rock opera, The Barren Sea, a dark guitar riff and the even darker voice of Eaton, along with a thrilling guitar solo give the final touch to a masterpiece, comparable with “Leonardo, the Absolute Man” and even with some Ayreon albums.
So in short, no gaps or boring parts, Campbell gives his all and the whole album shows up completely compact, natural and powerful to the ear. As Mr. Campbell himself has said, his style aims to be a perfect mix of Dream Theater, Queen, Spock’s Beard, Symphony X, Pantera, Elton John, Tool, and ELO. And to be honest, I think he has done a great work. Richard Campbell actually entered the Dream Theater song writing contest back in 2004 and came 4th, so if you’re a fan of classic progressive rock/metal, the mighty melodies of Dream Theater, the magnificent bass and keyboard style of Symphony X and the rock operas, you will just LOVE this album.

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