Lingua Mortis Orchestra hails from a mighty background. Victor Smolski, Peavy Wagner, and Andre Hilgers also are a part of the band RAGE. Way back in 2012, I reviewed their twenty-first album “21”. I liked it. There newest album is “LMO” on Nuclear Blast Records is a way over the top version of “21”. RAGE have taken power and progressive metal and put it on 11. Victor Smolski brought in not one but two orchestras. Over one hundred musicians worked on the album “LMO”. If that isn’t gobsmacking enough, the story behind “LMO” will leave you agog. “LMO” is based on the burning of witches in Gelnhausen in 1599.
The song ‘Cleansed By Fire’ begins with a type of didgeridoo sound. There is what sounds like native chanting that segues into a more late Renaissance / early Baroque style chanting. The underlying music becomes the style. At the two minute mark, the ‘Cleansed By Fire’ is more 90s power rock fused with 70s progressive rock. This is where the song really takes off. Lingua Mortis Orchestra is truly flexing its orchestral muscles in the compositions. Peavy Wagner’s vocals here are a standard metal type vocal and he’s accompanied by a female operatic voice: Jeannette Marchewka and soprano Dana Harnge. At six minutes there is an Iron Maiden riff type moment that piques my interest but alas it’s gone too quickly. What follows in composition would suit a Broadway stage more as it’s grand in scale and scope. But then that too has alighted and replaced with some grunge / dubstep; I can’t quite wrap my head around it before I’m whisked away on a psychedelic trip. The ten minutes and thirty seven seconds of ‘Cleansed By Fire’ is Lingua Mortis Orchestra’s album “LMO” in a nutshell. It’s a rather convoluted nutshell.
The story of the witches in Gelnhausen are re-told and re-imagined in ‘Scapegoat’, ‘The Devil’s Bride’, ‘Lament’, ‘Oremus’, ‘Witches’ Judge’, ‘Eye For An Eye’, ‘Afterglow’, ‘Straight To Hell’, and ‘One More Time’.
Lingua Mortis Orchestra’s “LMO” is not something you can listen to causally. It’s not something you put pop in the CD player and go for a drive. It takes serious concentration and attention to get through “LMO”. The music is beautiful at times. It has some serious head banging moments. The compositions are sweeping and grand. The album follows an arc of a stage play / opera. The lyrics tell a story. The album is not for the faint of heart. There is a lot going on and sometimes the musical styles don’t quite mesh. Overall, I give major props to the members of RAGE, the orchestras, and the additional singers. This project was immense and the end product is amazing. It’s a must have for fans of RAGE and for fans of modern original compositions.