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Orpheus - "Orpheus" (CD)

Orpheus - "Orpheus" CD cover image

"Orpheus" track listing:

1. Fuck me over
2. Constructing
3. Bygones
4. Mr. Manipulative
5. Peepin' Tom
6. Repay
7. Bloodflow
8. The plan

Reviewed by on December 19, 2009

"If the band's got a real breakout star, it's vocalist Ingrid Galadriel, who adds a scream to 'Mr. Manipulative' that does Axl, Bruce Dickinson and Rob Halford proud. Her vocals range from gentle melody to shrieks without missing a beat."

It's hard to fault Norway's Orpheus for their inspirations, which range from In Flames to Guns 'N Roses and Iron Maiden. I can fault them though, for not really going anywhere different from those inspirations on the band's self-titled debut album.

I do have to give the band credit for musicianship. Guitarists Kristian Drivenes and Sivert Skaaren bust out some impressive solos, and have a seemingly equal grasp of how to play heavy, (the thundering, screaming opening to "Mr. Manipulative") and beautifully light (the clean electric opening to "Peepin' Tom"). If the band's got a real breakout star, it's vocalist Ingrid Galadriel, who adds a scream to "Mr. Manipulative" that does Axl, Bruce Dickinson and Rob Halford proud. Her vocals range from gentle melody to shrieks without missing a beat.

The songwriting is where Orpheus struggles a bit. It's not that there's anything particularly bad about any of the tunes, but there's nothing that really stands up and stamps out a sense of the group's identity.

"Fuck me over," the opener, has an "Enter Sandman"-esque clean electric opening, which segues into some classic metal thunder before settling down into a Maiden-meets-Guns blues stomp. Galadriel keeps singing about how she wants someone to "fuck me over and leave me dying," which grows a bit old. A good solo goes a pretty long way toward rehabilitating the song.

From then, it's on to the Maiden-inspired riff that opens "Constructing," which has a definite 1980s vibe. It's one of the better tunes and really shows off Galadriel's vocals. "Bygones" adds a touch of Judas Priest to the mix. That said, Galadriel's vocals in the verses are a bit too close to the guitar line. "Iron Man" can get away with it; this song can't.

"I want you to be my peepin' Tom," Galadriel sings in "Peepin' Tom," which is seemingly an ode to stalking, voyeurism and exhibitionism. It's got some great guitar work near the end, and a punky coda that I enjoyed, even if I found fault with the lyrics. "Repay" is a highlight for bassist Amund Stokke, who has since left the band. His playing during the verses is excellent and I also like Galadriel's lower-range vocals.

"Bloodflow" is Maiden-by-the-numbers, with double-guitar heft in the opening and bridge. It's well-played, but distinctly lacking in originality. "The Plan," which ends the album, has the same issue.

If you like Iron Maiden, I'm sure you'll find something to enjoy in Orpheus' self-titled debut. It's expertly played and Galadriel has all the makings of a metal star — especially these days, when female-fronted bands are a hot trend. In listening to this album I found myself torn about whether it's better to play like Adrian Smith or write unique songs that could only come from you and your bandmates. I'll bet that's a question the members of Orpheus will struggle with for some time.

Highs: "Constructing" and "Repay."

Lows: No truly bad songs, but many of them lack a sense of originality.

Bottom line: An expertly played Maiden-esque metal record, but one that lacks much in the way of originality.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)