Thursday, 21 November 2013

Order of Nine - Seventh Year of the Broken Mirror

Release Date: 22nd May 2012
Genre: Symphonic Power Metal, Heavy Metal.
Label: Nightmare Records
Number of Tracks: 11
Band Homepage: Order Of Nine

Overall Rating: 7.8/10

'Seventh Year of the Broken Mirror' is the 5th album from accomplished, Pennsylvanian metallers Order of Nine. Inspired by the likes of Iron Maiden, Dream Theatre and Symphony X, this diverse album is musically brilliant with great riffs, exquisite lead guitar playing and unique doom style vocals all of which will escalate Order of Nine to be up with the big names of this genre. 

The album is generally set at a slow tempo, but is certainly heavy and perhaps the most impressive aspect of all is the tight, harmonised lead guitars that feature in different ways in every song. Hell, all the guitars are phenomenally tight and well composed and the riffs in certain parts are muscular. Guitarists Steve Pollick and Mark Kreh are real assets to the 6 piece group. Michael Degrena's vocal style has similarities to Ozzy Osbourne and although it has it weak points where perhaps it doesn't fit with certain songs such as the chorus to 'Spiral Staircase', this is a rarity as it fits well with the slow tempo and riffing style and is unique to this genre. 

Keith Hurka's drums really mould well with the guitars and the diversity in the drums alone is fascinating. This is evident throughout the album, but 1 song sums up the drumming ability and that is track 6 'Innocence'. The intro to this song is heavy, probably the heaviest section of the album with tight drum fills and double bass carrying the song to a softer, almost psychedelic sound. Chris Dillion's powerful addition with the keyboard really adds to the emphatic feel to songs, track 8 a particular highlight of his work. Overall, a great musical set up.

There are many many good points in this album which i urge you to check out. The titular first track's keyboard breakdown/solo and guitar harmonised solo is very reminiscent of early Dream Theatre. After the intro to this song, it fades away into a clean section led by talented bassist Mark Howard. Even though this song features some screamed vocals in the chorus, the verse riff seems to lack thrust and imagination. However, this is made up for in the aforementioned solo section. Track 2 'Words That Were Said' moves like a bullet and offers us a sharp and short lived injection of pace. Again the intro riff is blistering as is the harmonised solo which is worthy of super shred status.

There is a lot of diversity on the album as track 3 'Dreamspeak' starts with a soft piano intro, unlike the other tracks, but it still has the 80s thrash theme. The verse does a great job of leading up to the  chorus which features fast double bass drums and a continuous symphonic feel. 

The lengthy track 5 'Changing of the Guard' is laden with musical excellence. Drums, guitar, keyboard and bass all prove how talented the band are and is one of the strongest tracks on the album. It's composure is excellent as it features a chunky riff, drums and keyboard and stay heavy up until just after a Godly solo, where it turns into an slow acoustic melody which builds to a guitar shred duel lasting another 3 minutes.

Track 8 'Eye of the Enemy' is the strongest track on the album and is a song you can really get connected too. The chord choice, particularly in the keyboard is spot on, and could not be any better. The song is constructed similarly to track 5 but the piano breakdown at 4:00 minutes is very emotive, and spectacularly is not out of place. The vocals after this are very Ozzy Osbourne esque. This builds to an appropriate guitar duel, that again, isn't overdone. 

There are few negatives, as songs like 'Twelfth Talisman', the verse sections to 'Third Wish', and 'Seventh Year of the Broken Mirror' seem to lack originality and are overshadowed by the excellence that surrounds them. In parts, the vocals are weak and sometimes do not fit the song such as track 11 'Winters Call', however this is a rarity as it was refreshing to hear a band try something new, and add something fresh to this genre.

Overall, this is mostly a fantastically well written, well composed and well produced album which shows the talents of every member of the band. The musicianship in parts is exceptional. A stand out fact is how much effort these guys have clearly put in, which doesn't go un-noticed. These are a unique and highly diversified group, one which I wish I had heard sooner. 

You can purchase the album off the bands webpage (link at the top) and I recommend that you do. They have a selection of songs off their discography on the Order Of Nine Reverbnation page, and their Facebook is frequently updated.

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