Order of Nine
Seventh Year of the Broken Mirror

Pensylvannia’s Order of Nine come up with a particularly proficient record in their fifth offering Seventh Year of the Broken Mirror. It’s a tactical and reflective journey that speaks volumes about large-scale introspection and vivid, tenacious emotion, albeit don’t be mistaken; it ain’t no lyric-centered album that only uses music as a foundation to lay on. The songwriting ideas herein seriously have the ammo to make this a metallic, heavy-hitting, and substantially seasoned and punchy record. A good bunch of those tracks may be what I would call US melodic metal, but this basic take on the genre’s infused with thrash, symphonic, and technical-flavored modern heavy metal acrobatics, all this being the holding cradle for this particularly chivalrous and colossal vocal approach of frontman Michael deGrena’s. He goes for an interestingly varied palette in terms of a vocal range, and his lower tones are particularly ground-moving. He truly bleeds what he sings about. Entwine this with Steve and Mark’s plowing riffs and intricate leads, and you essentially understand what this heart-touching album renders. It brings the sodding point home in a remarkable manner.

The title-cut & opener relentlessly supports this statement for a start. Michael’s ever so slightly raspy entrance into the matter wouldn’t’ve been out of place on a Count Raven record with its slightly bitter and edgy Ozzy-tinged approach, morphing into a growl every now and again, and the instrumentation’s not bullshitting on the technical prowess front either; this gallop is fucking rock-solid on all ends of the spectrum, with candid and energized pattern shifts, and a very distracting layout from the beginning of the song to the last note. This is already a pretty convincing way to put this train on a promising track. ”Words that Were Said” follows suit in a maze of very groove-oriented modern thrash riffs meshed with what I recognize as a very Scar Symmetry/Symphony X‘esque touch to the general structure and sound of the track. It sure doesn’t lack dynamics, and drummer Larry Boord’s slicingly candid firing on all cylinders brings him up front in the spotlight with this song. Add in a powerful soloing section around the 2 minute mark backed up by Boord’s audibly well-schooled prog musings, that focal point surrounded with verses showcasing loud n’ meaty riffs topped by deGrena’s eerie Sabbath’y style. I can safely say this tune ranks right up there as a highlight right off the bat, ending with contemplative and honestly fitting keywork from Robyn Kay. ”Dreamspeak” could be qualified as a power ballad with a huge twist for a backbone. Boord’s drumming is over-the-wall and pumps in the adrenaline right after Kay’s soft albeit dark keys started the ball, clearly indicating that even the most emotional passages of this album aren’t gonna tone down on the two-ton crunch. It’s an interesting blend of US Power Metal oomph and melorock, still radically propelled to a considerable degree of grabbing impact with electric shockwave soloing that’s far from getting exhausted.

”Spiral Staircase” had me thinking of Halford‘s solo works there for a bit. It’s a 7 minute and 18 seconds long wealth of kicking, high-profile melodic heavy metal par excellence. It starts off with hauntingly bleak, pensive, and harmonious keywork topped by efficiently simple but still mammoth-heavy riffs, kicking into high gear ’round mid-track in one unexpected and nifty build-up towards a faster paced motion with plenty of fucking groove and a mean n’ ballsy thrashier lacing. This type of song progression is highly reminiscent of some of the tunes on Halford‘s Resurrection and in my book, it’s an instant winner, and truly knows to grab and angrily rock on with plenty of personnality. ”Changing of the Guard” is even proggier and intriguingly layered and charismatic. The solo section, especially, is one heck of a piece of work, going across a tableau of two clear opposites, first half being backed up by brick-thick riffs and ripping through concrete, to dive into more mathematical and even more technically elaborate waters with background accoustic stringwork. It’s a hell of a rich song with plenty of infectiousness and off-the-cuff displays of tricks to boot. The melody-oriented ”Innocence” is a highly pleasant and grey area of the record, and I have to underline, yet again, how much deGrena’s heavily wounded-sounding and eerily beautiful vocal is. It greatly enhances the punch of the message the track strives to vehiculate, and the guitarwork ranges from high-horsepower, bleeding licks to grippingly desolate stringwork. ”Third Wish” heads straight back into stalwart zones with fierce drumwork and riffs that don’t lack urgency, and alternates between this effective rumble and slower-paced but equally grandiose choruses. The soloing is yet again flamboyant and absolutely wall-to-wall.

”Eye of the Enemy”, nevertheless, is even more high-profile, with its hugely potent and skilled flourishes. The symphonic entrance into the matter, kicking into frankly flawlessly gritty verses and eventually heading straight down to somber and very oldschool solo Ozzy terrain.. it’s all very breath-taking, and honest to heck, flashy, making me stop and wonder why I didn’t know about this band before now (they did a fair load of tribute records before finding their own imprint; and damn, they sure cooked it up with passion and a flair for exactly which avenues of sound work best). The catchy and blades-out ”Twelfth Talisman” also contains some of that macabre and very English type of mid-track nuance that would’ve been fitting on ”Down to Earth”. ”Reign Down” charges on without any lessening on the sharp pummeling on all fronts with more of these tasty melodic hooks that ensure both accessibility and entertainment for prog fans and newschoolers alike. The heartfelt, calculating, and plain dark piano piece ”Winter’s Call” closes the record in an elegant and sincerely cool way.

A disc like this one is a killer tribute to the gods, and also a genuinely innovative and bombastic technical prog venture. Actually, it’s hard to tag it with one single sub-genre labelling; see for yourself, you’ll get hooked to this enchanting intrigue, mark my words.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Noch
June 11th, 2012

Comments

  1. Commented by: yourdumb

    Tried it out.sounds like retro wanna be garbage. Try harder next time.not one original nite on Tue whole thing.


  2. Commented by: gabaghoul

    yourdumb, your my favrite troll EVAR. you’re speling is just so awsome. im so glad you decide to com to this site.


  3. Commented by: bassTARD

    LOL, the trolls bin outtttteeeedddd


  4. Commented by: David Stoller

    Ummm, don’t think vehiculate is a word. You make great effort Noch, but some times you try way too hard in my opinion. Your reviews could use a lot more concision and less excessive verbiage.


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