Lion Music
Release date: January 23, 2004

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

No matter how much they probably hate to hear it, Kiske-era Helloween inspired a multitude of bands, and continue to inspire today. How else do you explain Orion Riders, a progressive band full of talented musicians who tap into the Keeper of the Seven Keys vein while adding in elements of Yngwie Malmsteen, Dream Theater, Queensrÿche and others. Luckily, they are not clones of any of the aforementioned. Orion Riders A New Dawn pays homage without committing thievery and creates an album full of aural imagery.

Quizzically, the album begins with a song called “In Memory.” This sort of tune is usually left for the last song on a CD. The track is mostly an intro, 90 percent instrumental except for some short vocals, that serenade us with the thought that “all dreams will be stars that never die …”

The Kiske reference comes because of vocalist Joe Lombardo. On the third track, “A New Dawn,” you’d swear it was Kiske screaming “I stayed in darkness while the wood buried its secrets woh!” One difference here is that Lombardo is Italian, and the accent is noticeable, although it in no way impedes with the delivery. He has a strong, skilled voice, and fits the band perfectly. This is the band’s third vocalist since 1997, and here’s hoping he stays with them from this point on. The composition of the song will lead you back to Keeper of the Seven Keys references as well.

“Light and Dark” begins with a choir singing, and then triumphant keyboards and thundering drums take over. In the production mix, the drums are not brought to the front as much as they should be. This is more of a guitar and keyboard song, with Lombardo wailing over the top of all. This song is 7:34, basically a chance for every musician on the CD to shine. The choir joins in at the end of the song as well. This is an obvious attempt at writing an intricate composition, and it works.

The one ballad on the CD, “Life’s Best Days,” is probably the one time where they make a somewhat commercial attempt at songwriting, if that’s possible with a progressive metal band. The music is beautiful, the lyrics are impassioned (Listen to these words, poetry of a shattered dream … no tears for you), and the ending of the song is somewhat of a Hollywood ending, how it all wraps up perfectly. Perchance they tried too hard, here.

Guitarist Antonello Condorelli saves his best for last, on the aggressive song called “Old Symphony.” The beginning of the song highlights his ability, and when vocals starts, it’s almost too soon. Still, he has more chances throughout the track. In fact, the drumming and bass stand out on this track as well. All in all, their most complete song.

The CD is somewhat short, 9 songs in length with 2 instrumentals, but the quality in essence makes up for the quantity. They may sound a bit like their influences at times, but weave a fresh layer into their songwriting. Right now, they are not as good as they will be, but they are worth your time. Definitely check out A New Dawn.

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