(All Album Reviews by Dragonflame713)
The Italian metal scene has been a favorite of mine for some years now. Much of the truly great symphonic metal today has come from that land. In the last couple of years however (possibly due to the amount of bands employing this particular styling in their metal), I have noticed a number of bands incorporating more American prog metal stylings, some bay area thrash influences, and sad to say in one case even a nu metal influence in their music. The mainstay bands such as Rhapsody, Skylark, Domine, and Thy Majestie still seem to be riding strong, each with their own signature brand of symphonic metal. Could there be room for another?
I believe the answer is yes, and Orion Riders is another arrival on the Italian symphonic metal scene. Well not really new, they have been around since the late 90’s. Since then through various lineups, and a demo CD called “Brothers Of Our Time” have been honing their craft. To describe them I would have to say they are an Iron Maiden/Helloween hybrid, with orchestral elements throughout the music. The music however, has a very pure sound to it.
The orchestral elements have a definite presence on this album entitled A New Dawn, but they are sparsely used throughout and as a result the main music breathes a lot easier because of it. The band employs a dual guitar attack, which works very well with harmonies. The music is also very tightly arranged, and has a very classic metal styling. The orchestration and keyboards only enhance it.
The keyboardist Tony Zappa, is certainly noteworthy on this album. One thing I notice right away with him, is his use of the piano throughout the album (something unique and not heard too often in metal). In one instance in the song “Light And Dark” he cuts loose with a really fluid piano solo, but upon closer listening it reminds me of a Kai Hansen guitar solo!
The album kicks off (following the symphonic overture “In Memory”) with a Helloween style song with “Whispers”. Sort of a “start – stop – go” guitar riff, with the violins dancing in and out in between them. The title track “A New Dawn” is in a similar vein. But what makes the songs interesting is the amount changes strewn throughout them. Never boring, never predictable…
“Life’s Best Days” is the ballad of the album, and it takes on an almost classic rock feel. Very tastefully done. “Old Symphony” is one of my favorites on the album, which is a flowing musical journey through guitar harmony, piano passages, symphonic interludes, and besides all of that a solid song! “Leave The Shades Behind” is a song with haunting sounding verses, and then goes into galloping symphonic chorus lines.
Lyrically, this is where the album really sets itself apart from many of the symphonic metal bands, in where they aren’t medieval/fantasy/history oriented. They seem to deal more with inner emotions.
This is certainly a great addition to the Italian metal scene, not to mention metal in general. This being the first full lengthed album from the band, this is in a sense the beginning: A New Dawn as the album title says. I honestly will be looking forward to seeing their sun continue to rise in music’s vast skies in the years to come! I know just as the sun in our skies shines brightly in our skies every day, the future of this band is sure to be just as bright…