Two years ago Portuguese ORATORY debuted with their first full album "Illusion Dimensions" and it was Power Metal with both male and female vocals, which I had attested a good quality, with some flaws, but it was a debut, so I could not be that harsh in my verdict.
Now "Beyond Earth", again with a very nice, genre-untypical cover, has found its way into my player and I definitely can hear some major progress here, with the basic sound more or less unchanged, still Power Metal with some Melodic Metal influences, but overall a lot more mature and dynamic than before. Especially female singer Ana Lara has improved a lot and now truly bears the song with her strong voice, which thankfully is not the typical soprano and goes along very well with the music.
The title track in the beginning is as fine a cut as ORATORY have on offer, upbeat, melodic, but not "Happy Metal", with a very good vocal performance of Ana, who has taken over the lead singer duties on "Beyond Earth", contrary to the debut, where she still had shared the microphone a lot more than here. "Your Glory Won't Last Forever" is the first track, where a male singer is also participating in the vocals, the song itself more riffy, with a very nice duet in the chorus, very good track as well!
"Old Man's Prophecy" or "Victory Of Light" can also be named as tracks worth checking out. And it's getting better still, in form of a hidden track, which is a great Metal version of an 80s pop song, which you'll have to have heard. And no, I won't tell you which song it is, this would take away so much of the fun :)
What sets ORATORY apart from the majority of their genre colleagues is for one Ana Lara's excellent voice and also that they mix in a good bit of Melodic Metal into their Power Metal, which gives a nice twist. If you're into these melodic, but still heavy waters of Metal, ORATORY should be one of your choices to check out the next time that you go astray and find yourself in a CD store. (Online March 5, 2003)