Reviewed: May 2022
Released: 2022, self-released
Reviewer: Simon Wiedemann
ORRA are a progressive metal band from Athens, Greece. They were formed in the Autumn of 2019 by a group of experienced, driven, and open-minded artists, and they have collaborated with each other in different acts over the years. What makes ORRA different are their exotic grooves, heavy rhythms, multi-layered arrangements, psychedelic atmospheres, and symphonic elements. Their upcoming debut album ‘Unbounded’ was self-released digitally on all major platforms on April 14th, 2022, through Distrokid.
Wow, after a reasonable if slightly cheesy start, track one really does develop quickly. Some may say the structures are on the random side. It’s like they’re trying to cram as many ideas into as short a space a time as possible. It’s just a massive confusion-fest that goes on and on for twelve and a half minutes. What’s even more strange, is that the chord progressions and melodies are actually vey well done, again, it’s just the structures that bring everything down. Thank God there is some repetition in the track creating a much needed sense of logic, but it’s not enough. The shred guitar playing is actually very good, which is even more surprising. The singing is very over the top and brings to mind later Candlemass. Other times, one gets reminded of Led Zeppelin’s Robert plant. Love them or hate them, they ARE skilled. The drumming on the other hand is often rather sloppy, further contributing to the song’s messy nature.
Is the shorter following track any better? Unsurprisingly, it sounds like it could be from a different album. There are avant-garde doom influences, there are classic metal sounds in the style of Iron Maiden, and naturally not in a good way. Stick to a style! Well, okay. After a few listens, it does start to grow on you. Luckily the structure is far easier to follow, but it is fairly straightforward. The similar length ’Time’ is a perfectly respectable ballad, however. It starts off soft with sweet acoustic guitars, then pounding bass and drums get added to the expressive and dare I say it, expert singing that is filled with emotion, power and melodic skill. Distorted guitars get added at logical times, adding to such power. There are some interesting chord choices, and just because it’s at least partly gentle, don’t go thinking the song is for wusses. Instead, it could feature in a highly respected power metal album. Very good stuff. And the development? It never goes weird!
The longer ‘In Pulse’ starts off with guitar playing that’s so expressive, I’d even call it beautiful. Joe Satriani himself couldn’t do a better job at expressing himself. Much of IP is in the same style as the prior track, and again, it is mostly of very high quality. Maybe it escalates a tiny bit fast in places, and whilst the ‘more exciting’ outro section of the song does have some strong note choices from the singer, the sloppy drums and the adding of new, not so well thought out ideas spoils things. Six-minuter ‘Redemption’ is a nice enough track, but as it sounds similar to the preceding two ones, the sound starts to get a bit old at that point. The album’s final track and second ‘epic’ song isn’t as baffling to listen to as the first, (though it has its moments) but poor musicianship spoils many of the good traits it has. Some of its melodies and harmonies are genuinely very musical, but why not play them more often?
To conclude, this album really could have been great from start to finish, had it been written with more common sense. You could listen to the weirder sections over and over again if you want to truly make sense of them, but there is a chance doing so will ruin your sense of taste if you have plans of starting your own band. Very dangerous. There are a wide range of textures and instrumentations, but again, it’s really not what the album is screaming out for. The two songs that are over eleven minutes DO have plenty of great ideas, but the way they’re often thrown together so carelessly completely ruins things. It is an album of great highs and some pretty deep lows, making deciding the overall score a confusing task. So how about this: At its worst, I’d give it a 2.5, at its very best a 4.5. On average, let’s say 3.5/5. It’s genuinely one of the weirdest prog albums I’ve ever heard, and it’s not particularly recommended, in fact the first track is best avoided. BUT some songs certainly are worth your time.