Tales From WWII is the debut album for Italian Power Metallers NEXUS OPERA. It closes a circle that began a long time ago. The tracks cover different periods of compositional and stylistic evolution and sound is blended in a power-prog melodic and symphonic, even baroque sometimes.
In the background of the conceptual theme that the title of the album suggests - World War II - the tracks cover events and people, famous or not, related to the largest armed conflict in the history of humanity, sometimes reported in an fantasy like key, sometimes in a much more raw and direct way.
The opener is Ardenne with a melancholy intro as a sinister omen of coming war events that become a mid-tempo that reminds of the unstoppable panzer invasion through French Land.
Then we have Return of a Hero, a dream, a fantasy of a French child looking at his Country occupied by Nazis and thus he dreams of a hero for salvation, a hero that has fled overseas to plan a victorious come back (De Gaulle). Keyboards make a canvas of melodies and the song develops with several changes between mid-tempo and more sustained parts. We can begin to taste the nice solo work on the guitar by Pinna especially in the opening solo.
Katyn tells of the homonymous carnage where more than 20.000 Poles found death. The piano/violin intro opens in a brilliant and deeply intense song with strophes pervaded by Hammond-like organ and with nice vocal choir. In the middle, an abrasive riff and a stunning bridge led us into crossed guitar and keyboard solos to come back again to the beginning verse.
Wolpack is the longest track and is dedicated to u-boot named wolfpack due to their tactic in the hunt for convoys in the Atlantic; it tells about hypothetical sensation of a german sailor during the hunt and when becoming prey of Destroyer with the risk to sink under a depth charge rain. The song opens with a huge ambient atmosphere and a winding pan effect riff. There is also something like a punk break that bring to high evocative strophes. The slow, melodic interlude reminds of dramatic moments and led to very nice guitar and keyboard solos.
Another topical moment is Laconia, a great drama regarding Italian people but illogically better known outside of Italy. It is the story of british ocean liner Laconia used to carry italian POWs besides English troops and polish guards. The ship fell victim of U156 and was sunk by its torpedoes in west Africa sea. Once surfaced captain Hartenstein understood what happened and, despite initial reserves by his central command, decided to begin an astonishing but very dangerous rescue operation. This epic and dramatic tale is well depicted by the power metal song in which a speed and strong beginning is balanced by more evocative breaks. The bridge with backing vocals by Madi Borma is worthy of most inspired moment of the song if not of the cd.
NachtHexen is the incredible story of soviet night bomber regiment formed by…only women. Flying upon old WWI planes they did night raids against axis troops. They were nicknamed night witches due to the terrifying whistle that the soldiers could hear when they dived with their planes. The song begins with huge keyboard and shows a strange schema with a refrain coming from a speaker unit like an alarm and a chorus in a great mid-tempo.
Freedom Fighters is dedicated to all those who fought in the Resistance movements against the invaders. It’s a very particular song with a baroque intro by guitar and keyboard , an almost ska strophe with an epic refrain and a prog fusion break interlude in which the peak is reached by a great guitar solo.
Then we have our ballad in memory of Sadako Sasaki, a baby girl victim of the consequences of Hiroshima atomic bomb as many others hundreds of thousands. The story of Sadako and of her 1000 paper cranes to fold to win sickness has become the symbol of peace and no-nukes movement.
Finally, the last track is just The End of War, a song in two distinct movements: pompous and classical the first and prog with an epilogue almost "happy metal" the second, the whole surrounded by stunning solos. An end of war (and of the CD) that annihilate all, giving us a re-birth after reaching the depths, bringing a new world, welfare and prosperity…waiting for the next inevitable war because the man seems never learn and war is a real part of his intimate nature and, ineluctably, of his destiny.