• 9/10
    MARTIN ORFORD - The Old Road - 9/10


Inside Out
Release date: November 7, 2008

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

Forever Martin Orford will be connected with three names: Jadis, IQ and Giant Electric Pea Records. But that is all over now for Martin Orford, as he quit Jadis in 2006, IQ in 2007 and now announced the end of his small label. It is shocking that the reason for this is the increasing music piracy and the disillusionment he had to suffer from the Internet with all its possibilities. Strange, as one would have thought that Prog fans would support their bands better than that, as the best Prog, is and will remain underground for sure.

Obviously, this is not so. What seems like a unique chance for publicity for a young band, is a curse for the artist who needs to make a living from his art. So Martin Orford throws in the towel, and only in a few years everybody will realize what the music scene has lost with his departure.

As if he wants to prove that to all, he releases a final album under his name. For that purpose he gathered several well known musicians who make this an almost all-star-project: Nick D’Virgilio of Spock’s Beard, Gary Chandler of Jadis, Steve Thorne and John Wetton of Asia and King Crimson fame. With such an array of skillful musicians, it comes as no surprise that the instrumental side of the album is on a breathtaking level, especially as Nick’s drumming leaves nothing to wish for. That everybody else has nothing to prove is also obvious by the absence of any self indulgence and solo escapades. Sure, some parts have a jam feeling, but the band never strays too far from the path and keeps the composition at the center of their excursions in sight constantly.

The Old Road remains in the familiar waters of Orford’s typical style, and with that a low degree of heaviness, but that is not surprising either. The opening track “Grand Designs” is a grandiose song which fittingly named takes the listener by the hand and leads him through more than an hour of the finest Prog, sometimes reminiscent of early Genesis, though without Gabriel’s craziness, or Marillion. At the beginning of “The Time And The Season” one involuntarily thinks of Mark Kelly, and “Endgame” would have made a good impression on the five Brit’s Season’s End album. But then “Take It To The Sun” exhibits Arena drama, and “Out In The Darkness” could be described as a mixture of Orford’s bands IQ und Jadis.

But the highlight of The Old Road is the title track. With over eight minutes, it still is over much too soon. The mélange of bombast, melancholy, but also Rock deserves nothing less but the attribute ‘brilliant.’ Has Orford composed his finest song at the very end of his career? Every fan may decide that for himself, but regardless of that this album is positively timeless and beautiful. Now that the days grow shorter, and the winds howl outside, this is the music to warm one from the inside.

Let’s hope Martin will reconsider and return to the music circus one way or another. Marillion have shown how to be successful as an independent artist, keeping full control over their works. Maybe Martin could call the guys so that we still may enjoy more of Orford’s music, maybe on Racket Records?


  • Frank Jaeger

    Frank was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, based out of Bavaria, Germany. He has worked in the games industry for more than 20 years, now on the manufacturing side, before on the publishing end. Before this, he edited and handled the layout for a city mag in northern Germany ... maybe that is why he love being part of anything published. Frank got hooked on Metal at the age of 14 when a friend introduced him to AC/DC. They were listening to The Beatles, Madness, and The Police, and he decided they should move on. Well, they did, Back in Black became Frank's first Metal album, and since Germany is reasonably close to England, they had some small New Waves Of British Heavy Metal washing up on their shores: Tygers Of Pan Tang, Samson, Gillan, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Sweet Savage, Diamond Head, etc. If he had to pick his favorite styles, Prog and Power Metal would be at the top of the list.

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