Review | Harpazo – The Crucible

Rockshots Records

Harpazo; “To seize upon, spoil, snatch away or take to oneself”, especially used of ‘rapture’.

The deeper grain of the project is rooted in faith, with ‘Rapture’ capitalizing on the assumption of Christians into heaven during the end-time, uniting the current state of the world and its direction with prophetic theology in a concept that is a daunting and thrilling musical experience. Above all, Harpazo’s `The Crucible’ wells with great musical marksmanship and captivating performances of a star-studded line-up. 


The narrative in a nutshell: 2142, Jude Solomon, CEO of Ichor, introduced a revolutionary nanoid serum merging humanity with machinery, founding Babylon for the evolved. Seeking to evolve mankind and impose a singular truth, he halted global destruction caused by meteors using his technology. Survivors were urged to join his revolution, forsaking old beliefs. Rising as world sovereign, Jude persuades the masses to embrace the Ichor injection, sparking resistance and a genocidal war. Amidst this, his cybernetic assassin, ‘The Messenger’ was dispatched to quell a religious uprising in Jerusalem, setting the stage for transformative change altering the course of the world.

The story and musical direction for Harpazo’s debut offering `The Crucible’ stems from the pen of Marc Centanni and is performed by the formidable cast of respected players, all adding their specific tone to the experience. The interplay is wonderful and accumulates in harmonized full-frontal melodies and choruses, while the roleplaying itself emits the appraised Broadway drama of blockbuster musicals. It immediately becomes clear that the foundation underneath the endeavor, constructed by Centanni together with Shadow Gallery’s creative force Gary Wehrkamp, is a pristine blend of melodic and progressive rock with towering symphonic elements augmented.


Kicking the album into action, ,,Ichor” wells with Queensrÿche resemblance before mapping out its introduction with Shadow Gallery’s tone ‘n bliss. The project’s lead performer, aside Wehrkamp himself, is DC Cooper (Royal Hunt, Silent Force), best known for his majestic and clear range and ability to bring Halford’s piercing force to the plate also, colors the songs with his vibrant performances. Taking us on the journey as Michael, the new breed soldier assassin reprogrammed by nanotechnology, he brings forward the narrative with strong prowess. His leads are dominant and are topped off by the wonderful harmonies evoking Shadow Gallery’s juxtapose of classical elements and fluent but complex and inventive keyboard-guitar arrangements.

,,Ultimatum” is a perfect showcase of DC Cooper in beast mode, with the song leaning on Wehrkamp’s compositional synergy of keyboards-melody-guitars, blend into a towering pitch. Absolutely astounding is the musical wave created when Cooper belts out “The only way that I won’t pull the trigger is if you purge my soul from me” with agonizing force. Wehrkamp himself, as Jude, responds “You cannot kill me” in the songs cinematic end.


When Wehrkamp brings his best, songs well with intrinsic prog and shift in glorious bliss. The fusion of classical arrangements, powerful melodies and grounding bridges and choruses see songs tower with intensity and warmth. ,,Golden Crown” features this glorious collision of elements with ‘Enzo and the Glory Ensemble’ laying down operatic vocal interaction and powerful harmonies. The dramatic turns are enhanced by colorful guitar solos and acoustic phrasing, underneath piercing vocal trade-offs with Lee Lemperle, as Princess Relena Umberto, and DC. 

Cooper trades off his vocals in more staggering duets, like with Michael Drive (as Pope John X) on the following title track strongly rooted in prog metal turbulence with Mark Zonder’s typical drum dynamics and wide scoped fills, while tapping the dramatics of Broadway in its vocal and orchestral arrangements. The solo and jagged rhythm guitars bring power to the plate atop Wehrkamp’s lush keys paving the way for scatting anger-laden vocals that transcend another powerful melody and harmonized chorus with the narrative returning with agonizing laurels. 

Worldview’s Rey Parra is featured on the ‘rush of blood’ track ,,Two Witnesses” that stands tall with symphonic neo prog keyboard whirls, ponderous rock drums and towering choruses shooting it into orbit. The harmonies added by the cast are towering, while the anger-laden gnarls add fierce power to the song’s breakdown. The multitude of melodies in the songs accumulate in its finale were all transcend into one powerful pitch.


The albums thematical preludes and interludes are colorful symphonic compositions blending classical musical ingredients with neo prog and prog metal, setting the tone for the following song. ,,We are Weak” has an ominous music box that tingles into a parading keyboard stance and its commanding end. The guitar pulled ,,Legion Program”, which feels to recite from Saviour Machine’s `Legend’ soundtracks in terms of tone (Jeff Clayton) and thematic color, bridges the gap by implementing the red line that upholds the thematic synergy.

Warping us into the action of a song like ,,I am God” with its gnarling underscores and Wehrkamp digging deep to bring his performance of the tormented Jude forward, it displays musical cohesion. The song fires on all engines with powerful keys and ponderous (double bass) drum execution. The rousing rhythm guitars and tempo evoke Solomon’s dictatorial accolades perfectly. This turmoil and drive casted is also found on ,,Small Price to Pay”, uniting the Broadway grandeur with melodic metal and neo prog, the track features a daunting duet between DC and Christian Liljegren, of which the latter injects an intense dose of swagger and echoing roar. 


The musical builds into its Grande finale comprised of the scenic ,,Change of Heart pt. 2” and closing ,,The Book of Life”. Strongly leaning on Gary’s ambient cascading piano and keys, the first is pitched into action with touching vocals before unleashing its prog metal guitars. The riff propels the song suddenly with drum traction underneath. Tempo shifts and mood swings injected the song leans on clean vocals and cascading vocal harmonies before a dazzling guitar solos takes point in a duel with keys.

The low end is consistent and drones with growling bass cords and melodic playing covering ground between guitar and keys. When the keys start raining forceful on the ethereal meandering cinematic instrumental section following, Lemperle’s pitched vocals return to the front amidst scorching guitar licks going into Q & A with DC. Her light footed and clean register contrasts deeply with DC’s and comes across frail, which needs the listener to adjust to the timbre occasionally. 

The song seamlessly ebbs into the album’s final chapter, with compelling organ slowly making way to the acoustic guitars and Lemperle’s touching vocals. A different range that gels better atop the acoustic tone and piano arrangements. Angelic background choral hums add to the warm atmosphere with strings brought forward. Gradually building, the song starts to well with cinematic appeal before going all in with symphonic haul. Intensifying its guitars and keys, the choir returns to the fold accumulating yearning siege. The bass is growling low as the guitar solo starts to tower with glorious bays. The vocal interaction starts to pick up and the chat ‘n scat is tremendous, before returning to its original format with Lee’s “I see Light in the Sky” sending chills down your spine. The dead calm and stillness emitted is overwhelming. 


Harpazo is a dazzling piece of art with Wehrkamp uniting with friends to bring forward an impressive scenic rock opera. Though the term rock opera falls slightly short in the light of the album’s Broadway ingredients dominating, the album unites musical marksmanship with an interesting modern storyline. I love the wordplay on the characters and its engrained theological narrative, that hardly ever overloads its religious root but rather leans on the compelling story. The performances are sublime, and the transparent production adds to this. I only feel some of the openness in its layers doesn’t always empower the pompous output. 

Needless to say, this album will appeal to fans of Shadow Gallery, prog metalheads and is mandatory for those addicted to rock operas in the like of Ayreon, Star One, Avantasia, Aina,Timo Tolkki’s Avalon, Ten, etc. A MUST!


DC Cooper as “The Messenger”
Gary Wehrkamp as Jude Solomon
Lee Lemperle as Princess Relena Umberto
Jennifer Eckhart as Ellie
Rey Parra as Moses
Christian Liljegren as Casimir Agnus
Les Carlsen as “The Stranger”
Michael Drive as Pope John X
Extra vocals on “Book of Life” by Brendt Allman

Lead guitars, bass, drums, keys and piano by Gary Wehrkamp
Additional drums: Niklas Kahl on “I Am God” and “Change of Heart Pt. 1” / Mark Zonder on “Ichor”, “Golden Crown”, “The Crucible”, “The Book of Life”.
Additional electric guitars, drums, and keys by Marc Centanni
Violins – Stephanie MorykinTrombones – Gary Bredbenner
Guitar Solo #2 on “Golden Crown” by Joe Stone
Keyboard solo on “Change of Heart Pt. 2” by Bruno Sa

Backing vocals: Gary, Marc, John Zadeh, Gabriel Wehrkamp, Matthew O’Connell, Jim Roberti, Rick Fisher.

Choral vocals on ,,Golden Crown” by Enzo Donnarumma, Nicole Donnarumma, Gabriele Donnarumma, Mariacarmen Barbato, Namid, Mr. Jack, Amelia Cuomo, Valerio Graziano, Tommaso Naclerio, Claudia Coticeilli, Chiara Tarantino, Imma Losano, Emanuela Vitiello, Anna Cuomo, Giuseppe D’Auria. 

Release date: 28 June 2024



Logged in as