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(77:09, Musea Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Nice to Meet You 2:19 2. From the Ashes 8:34 3. Angel' Salvation 5:00 4. The Trial 8:44 5. Passion & Loneliness 13:09 6. Lost 6:12 7. Night 10:00 8. Redemption 15:36 9. I'm Back 7:35 LINEUP: Stephane Coubray Ц keyboards, piano; vocals; percussion Anthony Lefebvre Ц vocals; percussion Cedric Saulnier Ц guitars; vocals Raphael Leger Ц drums; rap Jean Charles Valentin Ц bass
Prolusion. The French outfit ORENDA started out back in 1998, at that time as a cover band performing songs by Dream Theater. Two years later they started working on an album of their own, but a car accident (and the effects of that) has stopped this work for some time. From 2003 and onwards they continue developing their own material again though, and following two demos they got down to creating their debut album from the fall of 2005. "A Tale of a Tortured Soul" was finished in early 2008 and subsequently issued by Musea Records.
Analysis. As one might suspect from the background of this outfit, this album is all about progressive metal of the vintage variety. Furthermore, the influences of Dream Theater dominate this excursion through and through Ц to the point of replication. Orenda do have their own original touch to their compositions Ц this isn't a case of purist replication - but it's also crystal clear that covering this highly influential act for some years has made a major impact on this band's approach to composing and performing. Vocalist Lefebvre could probably switch places with James LaBrie in the studio without anyone hearing much of a difference, and in particular in the instrumental segments of this album Orenda has a habit of ending up with passages that sound eerily like what must be described as their foremost influence in sound, style and performance alike, and although the likeness isn't as profound in all vocals segments the band tends to gravitate towards Dream Theatre's particular stylistic expression also in quite a few of those. In short, the parts of this album that don't sound influenced by Dream Theater sound pretty much exactly like Dream Theater. Ever-changing guitar patterns are the dominating aspect of this production; keyboards and synths provide melodic themes placed on top of those, and the rhythm department is just as busy as the guitars in ever-evolving compositions. Pace and atmosphere change so often and abruptly that there's hardly time to notice one before the next one has finished - and there's an emphasis on majestic, atmospheric segments and soloing from guitars and keys. As for the production, itТs done pretty much in the same manner as one of the most influential bands of the genre. As far as original touches go, they come across best on the parts of the album where Orenda seek to underline the concept story. In short, this album consists of one long composition detailing a conflict of sorts between a demonic entity struggling to find its place in the universe and with humanity and God. And if I understand the happenings correctly, God condemns this entity to an existence as a human - or something of the sort. Anyhow, it is when certain aspects of this story unfold that we're served the most original sounding passages on this excursion, many of which consist of whispered vocals and similar voice effects that highlight vital parts of the storyline. Some neat use of instruments is utilized in the same passages and themes, with the word atmospheric probably best describing the general scope and sound of these particular ventures.
Conclusion. As far as originality goes, "A Tale of a Tortured Soul" doesn't have much to offer, perhaps apart from the concept story and those looking for a new or original take on progressive rock or metal will most likely find this disc lacking. But fans of concept albums have one more title to add to their list here, and those who are really fond of the sound of Dream Theater, especially if they don't mind experiencing moments that sound like they could have been made by the band itself, might want to become more familiar with the debut album by this French act.
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