Orpheus - s/t 4/5

Reviewed: 12-18-09


1. Fuck me over
2. Constructing
3. Bygones
4. Mr. Manipulative
5. Peepin' Tom
6. Repay
7. Bloodflow
8. The plan

Orpheus’ debut is a stunning dose of melodic metal, with its own fresh take, and incredible performances from the vocalist and guitarists.

Norway’s Orpheus’ 's/t' CD is a perfect argument about not judging a book by its cover. The CD’s literal cover, along with the logo, gives the impression of raw black metal, while a glance at the song titles call to mind sleaze-hard rocker perhaps nu-metal. In contravention, singer Ingrid Galadriel’s name alone might call to mind more typical high fantasy power metal. Instead, the band’s vibrant sound is most easily compared to Sinergy, mixed with a solid dose of Ronnie James Dio, but a smaller but identifiable touch of Guns ’n’ Roses, hence the original nature, but all played with tremendous quality.

The band does a great job of interspersing various moods around the songs, so songs like the opening “Fuck me over” start with a brooding, crunchier tempo, but the solo and guitar leads in the middle pull out all the stops on delicious, Maidenesque dueling leads. The beginning of "Mr. Manipulative" is a black metal blast beat, before verging into more conventional midtempo metal.

While I had trouble deciding whether to gush over the vocals or the guitars first, I’ll start with the former. Ingrid Galadriel is simply sensational with her presence and technical performance. The more typical melodic top of her vocals is great, but unsurprising. It’s the raw, leathery strength of her underlying vocals which is far more unique and tremendously impressing, closest in range to Ann Boleyn and Kate French’s very best work, with a healthy dose of Dio’s most forceful singing. At times it’s quite jaw dropping, and really stands out from the field, where most power metal singers are either maxing out their upper range, or the female singers are concentrating on beautiful mezzo soprano vocals.

But “neck and neck” with the great display of Ingrid’s vocals are the devastating axes of Kristian Driven and Sivert Skaaren. As noted above, the band doesn’t limit itself to the straight forward heavy metal/power metal template, with a touch of groove and crunch here and there (check out “Bygones”), and they do a great job with these sections, but before they have any chance to get boring, the guitarists break into some of the sweetest dueling guitar leads I’ve heard in some time that will make those who love the classic “Maiden” interplay absolutely thrilled.

The drums from Torgeir Nilsen are solid and lay the foundation for the varied song tempos, while “Rune Rickenbacker” Engesæter’s bass is part of the devastating foundation of the heavy, somber sound of the CD. The production is also very impressive, for the most part clear and razor sharp, and embarrasses a lot of other CDs with far higher production budgets with its devastating clarity.

Orpheus is not purely archetypal power metal, but it should still greatly appeal to all but the most narrowly focused of that genre’s fans, and its divine execution and unique approach make it a highly recommended release to check out.




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