Review | Günter Werno – Anima One
Frontiers Music s.r.l.
`Anima One’ is the prestigious solo album of Günter Werno that he recorded together with his band mates of Vanden Plas and Pfalzphilharmonie Kaiserslautern. The project is a direct reflection of the keyboarder’s great creative stride composing a symphonic concert uniting his musical creativity and influences with that of his metal band and their performances on the world stages and musical theatres. The unison of styles makes for a classical symphony with a metal edge attractive to those in favor of Wagner and Mozart. As well as fans of the modern rock and metal opera’s like Ayreon and, of course, Vanden Plas’ conceptual albums.
The project took shape after Vanden Plas and the Pfalzphilharmonie performed John Lord’s “Concerto for Group and Orchestra” in 2019. Being challenged by the venue’s cultural officer to create a unique piece, Günter Werno started to construct themes and arrangements to make up the 3 movements for `Anima One’. He composed the 3 Movements on his keyboards and sequencer before finalizing them as written sheet music part by part, performed and recorded on May 13th 2022 for this release.
The music is a story told over the course of movements. Blending the classical allure of a symphony with that of his band, and eluding melodic themes that lean on the red lines like in musicals. `Anima One’ consists of the movements `Animabilis’, `Animosus’ and `Animato’ and brings across a wide array of emotions that find accolades in the vocal delivery of Andy Kuntz and Astrid Vossberg. It’s empowered by the 3-piece choir that includes Lisana Werno amidst Charlotte Lisador and Ines Pawlowski. Together, the vocalists inject the musical symphony’s last movement `Animabilis’ with appealing vocals that call out to the listeners and maintain the attractivity for a wider audience.
THE FIRST MOVEMENT
This last movement is worked towards with a discharge of styles that marks Werno’s creative mind. The 1st Movement opens with cinematic, almost theme park lush memorable melodic orchestration that slowly transcends into the riff driven section in which Stephan Lill’s intricate playing is slightly subdued in the mix, but provides the metal edge needed. Towering keys and string arrangements make it morph over the wonderful melodic themes and progressive breaks of the Vanden Plas backbone Andreas Lill (drums) and Torsten Reichert (bass). After the heavy section the song returns to form with Werno’s piano atop ethereal string and brass sections imposing a glorious and wonderful vibe.
The scenic visual section meanders off with a ,,Hall of the Mountain King” (Grieg) reminiscent theme that drifts into the next progressive section of keys and guitars feeding off of the melody. Breaks implemented the song start to bloom with stagnant sections and violins jagging the ominous tone towards the eluding guitar solo and appealing keyboard swirls.
THE SECOND MOVEMENT
The 2nd Movement `Animosus’ opens in the same style with different tone. Piano leads to the horns that color the palate for strings to ‘flow’ over. Very cinematic and gradually building, the song builds tension for heavy progressive partitures of dense strings and guitars with bells tolling dramatic. Plucking strings and ‘singing’ horns meander into pompous grandeur, with jazzy melody breaks displaying Werno’s varied influences and styles. Reichert’s bass lines are powerful and switch licks to melodic chords constantly, pulling the spotlight. Torsten is likely one of the best and most versatile players in the field, overlooked by many. He pulls the section with his appealing tone when Werno brings a playful touch ‘n tone to the front before the cinematic section takes over in jazzy turmoil frolic embedding pictures in the listener’s head.
Pompously powering up, the song is heavily progressive structured with Wakeman and Howe reminiscent Yes section that are powered by the grandeur of the orchestra. It is powerful and heavy, and the song’s guitar solo and intricate outro is simply spectacular.
THE THIRD MOVEMENT
Applause leads us into the final movement `Animato’, with a colorful guitar theme and wonderful orchestration of down-toned timpano kettle drums and intensifying progressive drums full of fills and floors. The breaks are powerful with strings adding to the thrill. Recurring themes and colorful string arrangements and keys roll forward strengthening into the powerful melodies and progressive metal pieces at the 5-minute mark. Morphing constantly, the musical variety is tremendous but comfortable. With the choir and vocalists coming in, the movement gains exhortation in the trade-off between Vossberg upon Kuntz entering. Firing up to the end, the music gets more powerful and dense, with a glorious powerful ending garnishing applause.
The ,,Bows and Encore” section added is a summarization of the musical themes that is celebrated by the audience feeding off of the orchestra and band’s glorious interaction.
THE WELL COMPOSED SYMPHONY BY GÜNTER WERNO
Günter Werno proves the nearly impossible, fusing rock and metal with the gigantic appeal of a symphony. It blends mutual ingredients of power and stride, with lush sections of great musical wonder that launches a great performance by Günter Werno himself as well as his band and the entire orchestra. Though it will not instantly attract a metal audience. Those who love the modern rock and metal music, concept albums, and heavier rock musicals will certainly find a piece of satisfaction in this well composed and wonderful symphony.
Fans of the Kaiserslautern metal band also will have great pleasure discovering the varied musical influences of one of their creative minds and the band performing entirely different music without losing their typical sound.
Release date: 17 March 2023