Order Of Nine – Seventh Year Of The Broken Mirror
Order Of Nine
Seventh Year Of The Broken Mirror
Pennsylvanian power metallers Order Of Nine have tied a bow around their third album on Nightmare Records, and fourth in total. Seventh Year Of The Broken Mirror has been branded as progressive power/thrash, but both the progressive and thrash elements are quite minimal. I will call this what it is: fairly straightforward US power metal that backs off on the riffs to make room for a bit of keyboard support, which in itself is relatively tame.
Immediately evident is the band’s very subdued vocal approach. Middle of the register, slightly mournful, and often obviously electronically supplemented, Michael Degrena’s vocals are extremely unexceptional. There is no screaming, only occasional harsh vocals, and an almost ceaseless tide of bland, sometimes sung-spoken baritone that really wants to set me snoring. Really this is quite a dirge, and I haven’t found more dull vocals in metal for quite some time.
Well, it’s a good thing that this band doesn’t suck otherwise. The guitar work, while rarely something special, is quite attractive when it is the feature presentation (unfortunately, this is something that doesn’t happen often enough). However, during most of the verses and choruses, it rather takes a backseat, and the keyboard that accompanies it is often very much an afterthought. There are a few great riffs, some good solo work, and the occasional bit of supporting axework that gets me excited. On the whole, however, the drums and guitar are nearly the only thing that keeps Order Of Nine even somewhat open for consideration.
Now I know that this is USPM, about which I am less crazy, but memorable choruses are nowhere to be found. In fact, I don’t think there’s a single vocal melody on the entire album that I can recall to mind if I try. I found myself comparing this album at times to Evergrey’s debut, only with less interesting…everything. There is little emotional fuel here to catch the listener’s attention, the instrumental work is not good enough to work on its own, and for crying out loud, Degrana hardly raises his volume above his unexceptional canting. This guy is really the frontman and doesn’t do anything else? I guess Order Of Nine and I have very different ideas about what sort of role a lead vocalist should play. He’s not an awful singer, but the entire record sounds as if he should be BACKING a lead vocal line that simply doesn’t exist. Diphthongs and a little vibrato hardly do it for this listener.
I enjoyed “Eye Of The Enemy” and “Changing Of The Guard” for being a bit more driving and energetic, but I can’t really say that I enjoyed them above any average tracks that I’ve been listening to from other bands lately. Perhaps this just isn’t my cup of tea, but it strikes me as USPM without the power and the great screams. Seventh Year Of The Broken Mirror is only offensive because of hampering its own potential, and I can’t really think of anyone to whom I could honestly recommend this. Pass.
Dan’s Rating: 2.75 out of 5