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Orion’s Reign – Symphony of War Award winner

Orion's Reign
Symphony of War
by Rachel Montgomery at 17 November 2019, 7:15 PM

ORION’S REIGN is a powerful Symphonic Metal band releasing an EP on the heels of their latest album, “Scores of War.” Founded in Athens in 2005, Orion’s Reign brings heavy symphonics to their music, using intense harmonies to create unforgettable songs straight out of a film soundtrack.

Freedom Is Not Negotiable” sets the tone of the album as dark, heavy and symphonic. They use this with lower melodies, a choir for ambiance and a lot of symphonic instrumentation. It’s done well, plus, the vocals are clear and operatic. The epic melody line in the chorus adds to the super bombastic tone of this song.

The melody in “Together We March” reminds me more of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie theme than it does a warlike anthem. It’s still a well-done song, and the epic elements are taken up to eleven. It’s a heavy symphonic number, again, featuring loud, bombastic choir elements that make this song heavier than the last one. Rhythmic crashers and heavy bells add ambiance to make this song feel like you’re fighting Johnny Depp on the deck of a ship during a thunderstorm.

However, there is such a thing as “too much if a good thing.” The next two songs, “Gravewalker” and “Last Stand,” sound nearly identical to the last one. “Gravewalker” has a similar melody, but in a minor key which makes it sound more subtly ominous. However, it has the same movie-score sound with the same heavy, symphonic elements and ambiance. This song should be more ominous and scarier, but due to the heavy symphonics, it sounds like a lost track from “Phantom of the Opera.” However, the narration in the instrumental break was eerie enough to fit the theme.

There is some variety in “Ride to War.” The one downside for some listeners is that it’s lighter. It begins with some Folk-Rock on Ren-Fest Rock (think Blackmore’s Night) instrumentals, but then turns into a proper war chorale with a steady beat and anthemic instrumentals. The melody fits thematically, and the song has a character distinct from the first four tracks. The piano solo is beautiful and the war horns in the middle were a good thematic choice, blending the Folk elements in the beginning with the warlike melody.

Nortos” is a Folk acoustic ballad with excellent musical technique. The original is more intense and symphonic. However, the way they toned it down here is beautiful with the ambiance. I love the mandolin-style guitars and riff coupled with sea ambiance. For the first time on the record, they have a female lead vocalist who has a lovely voice. The vocal harmonies are wonderful, and the crashing waves interspersed add to the cool, sea-shanty vibe.

Finally, they covered “Elan,” originally by Nightwish. From a nice piano riff, they take the song from soft to super-intense when getting to the main melody. At first, I wondered why the female vocalist didn’t sing this song but reasoned it may sound too much like the original if they did. And while the foundation of the song is the same, they add bells to make it their own. It sounds like the first four songs a little more than I’d like, and I think some elements in the refrain are a little much with the distorted guitars, but it’s still a good cover.

Overall, the band is excellent musically and production-wise. I just wish they varied the elements in their first four songs more to give them each a more distinctive character; it’s not a terribly big deal since this is an album and not an EP. Again, the songs are good on their own, but one after another can become monotonous. However, the production value and musicianship are enough to check out more from this band.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 8
Production: 10

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Freedom Is Not Negotiable
2. Together We March
3. Gravewalker
4. Last Stand
5. Ride to War
6. Nortos
7. Elan (Nightwish cover)
Lineup:
Dan Vasconcelos – Vocals
Michael Batistatos – Guitars
George Thanasoglou – Guitars
Noel Kardaris – Drums
Zurna, Duduk – Flute (“Nortos”)
Kirk Gazouleas – Orchestral Arrangements, Reed Organ (“Nortos”)
Aubrey – Vocals
Tim “Ripper” Owens – Vocals
Record Label: Pride & Joy Music
     


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Edited 13 December 2019
 

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