Need - _ORVAM - A Song for Home_
(Trailblazer Records, 2014)
by: Chaim Drishner (8.5 out of 10)
Need is a strange name for an American-sounding Greek band that play a personal and distinctive kind of progressive metal that is slightly out of the ordinary, enabling even those who usually dislike or avoid the genre to enjoy a massive, intelligent, hard-hitting and mature progressive metal album. There's always some greatness found in albums that allow you to enjoy a style you often avoid listening to -- and not that you haven't tried, but somehow couldn't get into. Like progressive metal, for instance.

If you are a Dream Theater fan, than _Orvam_ is not for you. However, if you're a Mercury Rising or Rush fan; latter-day Death (the band) fan; a Masterstroke or a Nevermore fan, then you probably should read this review carefully. Even bad-ass metal extremists would find something to call their own on and sympathize with _Orvam_; even those who plainly like robust, ballsy, well-written and well-played rock 'n' roll might enjoy this.

_Orvam_ displays a motley crew of musical inspirations and sources, some of which quite polarized to each other, while other aesthetics are more effective, complementing one another (and in that regard also more appealing). Though the vocalist occasionally displays some grunge rock inclinations that do the music a bad service, those are often mercifully replaced by more adequate vocal approaches that sit better with the music. In addition, there are few (thank god for that!) Guns 'n' Roses passages that you wouldn't care for.

Aside from those pitfalls, the music as a whole is quite awesome, if you wouldn't mind a momentary infantile assertion. Manifold of time changes and complex rhythms played oh-so-well on a massive sounding drum kit and percussion, in addition to captivating (and often contradictory) moments of mellowness versus aggression -- all play their part well on this huge recording that offers many different things to many different musical preferences, neglecting not the metallic hostility nor the emotional impact showcased so clearly on this album of many contrasts, shades and dimensions.

The recording works its magic due to the embedded formula that basically keeps everything on a schizophrenic level, meaning each track comprises a plethora of aesthetics, rhythms and vocal treatments -- and those can range from the most harrowing thrash metal moments, through traditional doom, all the way to the progressive rock ballads of the glamorous 1970s, with vocals to match and all -- without seizing the barrage of bombarding the listener with emotionally-charged tunes that run amok from one extreme to the next until the very termination of the track.

_Orvan_ is a curiosity that offers many things to many people: where the power of Nevermore and the emotional tapestry of sounds of Pink Floyd converge; where Candlemass' brooding, plodding epic tales coincide with Mercury Rising's grand and high-pitched progressive musicianship; where Death's sound structures (from their last albums) echo with deadly sophisticated heaviness only to meet the typical sound of Pearl Jam or Alice in Chains, and that includes the vocals' matching colors as well.

The lyrics are mostly cryptic, but the booklet design (just look at that face on the cover!) and liner notes suggest a metaphysical theme, something about leaving Earth and aspiring to colonize a new planet, either metaphorically or literally; and just like the very eclectic approach to music being displayed on this very interesting release, the question marks behind the band name, album title, theme, symbology and artwork, leave the listener with a sense of prevailing mystery.

If you dislike the immediate representatives of progressive metal and are not into the usual aesthetics of this genre of metal (or often question whether this is indeed -metal- to begin with); or if you like your progressive metal very much more metal and less whiny than the habitual Dream Theater clone -- _Orvam - A Song for Home_ will quench your thirst for epic maneuvers and melodic excellence on many levels, cornering and enveloping you with a multitude of emotions and erratic tempos; with hardcore guitar playing, massive riffs and laid-back melancholic lullabies. Eclectic excellence doesn't become more eclectic than that album, and had the band edited out the grunge / Gun 'n' Roses innuendos, the music would have been even tighter and more massive.

The bottom line is however, for all intents and purposes, _Orvam_ is one of the most interesting musical endeavors in recent years; a pretentious, creative and massively multifaceted work of art, where the best actors of hard and heavy rock 'n' roll make their shiny appearance in elegant shamelessness, manifesting themselves in apt unison through the sounds and songs of that very album.

Last thought: do not let yourself deter from further investigating the album after you have listened to just one track, or even to the whole album a single time; that would be a huge disservice for the album and a huge mistake from your end. You might miss a great album hiding many musical treasures -- hence, back-to-back triple listening sessions are mandatory in order to begin appreciating this album, and there's plenty in here to appreciate.


(article published 28/4/2014)

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