Some of you metal lovers may know Laura Macrì as one of the vocalists of Dutch Death metal band MaYaN or as the girlfriend of Epica's and MaYaN's Mark Jansen. But what most metal fans don't know is that Laura is a professional Opera singer who has graduated cum laude from the Vincenzo Bellini Conservatory in Caltanissetta Sicily in Italy. Of course we all know Opera singers who sing in metal bands like Tarja Turunen, Floor Jansen, Dianne van Giersbergen and Marcela Bovio. But while all of these fantastic singers have not pursued a career in the classical or Opera genre, Laura Macrì has and she is damn good at it too! Not only has she performed with her own crossover ensemble the Div4s but she has also sung with international renowned artists like Andrea Bocelli and performs regularly on Italian TV and in various Opera theaters.
Laura who was born on 29 June 1990 has started recording and co-writing her first solo album in 2012 which she has perfected and finished over the years with the help of many sound engineering pro's and producers known from the metal scene like Sascha Paeth, Joost van den Broek and Mark Jansen. In a final effort to finance the album release Laura started a crowd funding campaign which was successfully concluded while I was writing this review on 10 April 2017, reaching and surpassing with EUR 121.- the set goal of EUR 10,000.-
1. Ancora Una Volta - 3:39
2. Viva La Vita - 3:38
3. Un'Ultima Primavera - 3:49
4. Sempre - 5:17
5. Zonti - 3:37
6. Momento - 4:57
7. La Tinta Del Mio Mondo - 3:05
8. Dentro Un Sogno - 5:41
9. After All - 5:13
10. Pioggia Su Di Noi - 3:35
11. Terra - 4:13
12. Viva La Vita - 3:28 (Alternative Version)
'Terra' isn't a metal album at all but a good example of classical modern Italian songwriting by a.o. Roberto Macrì, Laura's brother who is a classical pianist. Here is my review of the full album from the perspective of a metal lover and a former opera- singer.
Ancora Una Volta sets in with romantic fast paced piano arpeggios as to depict the racing heart of a lover scorned and betrayed. Was it all a lie? Laura uses her operatic voice throughout the whole song like for example Tarja does in all of her songs. However Laura on this record mixes it with a clear singing voice, while Tarja uses her full operatic voice without exception. Usually I prefer singers to use their full operatic voice if they have easy opera voices like Tarja and Laura but on this record it is nice to hear clear singing too because the lyrics and whole atmosphere call for it. It gives it a more modern and fresh touch as well.
Viva La Vita immediately reminds of Sicily with its oriental and Moorish orchestral melodies and percussion. It is also one of my favorite tracks on the album because of the high pitched and pleasantly melodic refrain. Laura's voice sounds so easy in the higher register. As a operatic voices lover and connoisseur I believe Laura's voice is special because it sounds fresh and youthful but has a dramatic and experienced expression in its timbre (voice coloring). Same goes for the wonderful soprano voice of Simone Simons which I adore too, although Laura's voice is more classically trained than Simone's.
Returning back to the meaning of the song, the arrangement is more dramatic than its subject: enjoy the daily things, the smell of freshly baked bread and roses. Live your life!
Un'Ultima Primavera is another difficult love story like all of us who have had longer relationships know. You're at a point that you realize your story together has changed and is heading towards the end. However happy memories can't be deleted from your mind easily. So why not try again to start over? To live another last Spring together ... Un'Ultima Primavera.
In this song Laura uses her clean singing voice which gives it a nice contemporary overall feel. Only in the refrains and towards the end she uses more of an operatic coloring to add to the dramatic meaning of the lyrics. It is a very intense and almost 'James Bond'-score like song and another highlight on this album.
Sempre is a wonderful ballad but surprisingly it is not about a regular love story like ballads always are about. Or is it a love story about the interaction one feels before going onstage? The authenticity of emotions an artist always tries to give during a performance. It energizes you like a moment of magic. I personally recall the feeing before, during and after a performance very well: it resembles very much the feeling of being in love. A true high and addictive as a drug.
The orchestration is held very modestly and as from afar, just like when the orchestra members tune their instruments right before the concert starts. Laura uses her operatic color throughout the whole song which befits the image of a passionate diva. I love how Laura's voice floats in the long high notes. Another favorite song for me; it is almost like an arietta for a musical.
Zonti is the classical story about a man seduced by a beautiful mermaid or siren. Of course the poor guy loses his mind over the magical creature and dies. Beautiful piano melodies are being heard at the beginning of the song. The tempo sounds andante or andante e allegro to me which gives the song a thrilling atmosphere. Laura is using her lower register towards the end which is a beautiful example of the dramatic timbre or coloring she has in her soprano leggiero voice.
Momento starts with lovely Spanish acoustic guitar tunes. It is a very reflective and groovy song about the inner search for the truth. But perhaps we do not need to look any further since the answers are right in front of us. This song has a typical Mediterranean sound to me, not only because of the Spanish guitars but also because of the Samba rhythm and the ethnic sounding orchestration with percussion and romantic sounding string section.
La Tinta Del Mio Mondo is another lovely ballad like song in which the listener is drawn into like into a parallel fairytale world. Laura is showing you the color of her world with a beautiful clear singing voice. She is accompanied by acoustic guitar and a very modest string section. This minimal use of instruments and Laura's clear almost angelic voice reminds me of a minstrel's song. Very lovely and enjoyable melodies too. This song literally takes you away into another realm where one can forget all the troubles of the outside world.
Dentro Un Sogno recalls a beautiful ballroom in which Cinderella dances a romantic waltz with her prince as in a dream... but alas this story has no happy ending because it actually is about a dear friend who passed away too early, leaving his beloved ones behind with many unanswered questions. As in 'La Tinta del mio Mondo' Laura uses her clear singing voice with operatic and dramatic coloring especially in the higher register where her voice beautifully floats... as in a dream.
After All is the only song on this album which is partially sung in English. It has again a beautiful orchestration, which by the way is arranged a.o. by Mark Jansen. It could easily belong to a score for a Disney movie only less obvious and tacky like some Disney scores can be. Also the theme is not very Disney like since it is handling about the struggles one has to cope with after difficult moments in life. Surprisingly enough I find this the most Italian sounding song even though it is in English. The orchestration reminds me of San Remo, the famous Italian national Song Festival. So why not participate in San Remo one day Laura? ;)
Pioggia Su Di Noi is a very cheerful up tempo song about a couple enjoying each other and the nature around them after the rain has stopped. It has a very playful alternation of rhythms and the vocal lines accompanied by guitar and flute almost sound Baroque. Again the color of Laura's voice is very light and without a hint of dramatics as to emphasize the happy and careless feeling of two lovers running and fooling around in a meadow.
Terra is the title track and last ballad of this album and has a very beautiful yet sad atmosphere. It is about Laura's Sicilian grounds or 'Terra' which she always will recall wherever she goes. A harp plays a Chinese sounding melody as to remind us of lands far away.
Viva La Vita in this alternative version sounds more staccato or emphasized and therefore more powerful than the original version. A nice touch is a Celtic sounding folk music arrangement alternating with the verses and refrains. Very nicely done!
In conclusion if you like this genre of classical/modern Italian music and if you like beautiful operatic voices like Laura Macrì's then this album is a must have! For me it is one of the better non-metal albums I have heard since ages. I give it a 9 out of 10.
You can follow Laura on social media:
Facebook: Laura Macrì Official
Twitter and Instagram: @LauraMacriVoice
'Terra' will be available on iTunes and Spotify as of 21 April 2017.