This may be the best debut album we've heard in years.
On first listen, comparisons with their Italian compatriots Rhapsody, spring to mind. Then you'll start comparing them with all the other power metal greats – particularly Keeper era Helloween, and Elements Pt.1 era Stratovarius. And Sonata Arctica, Angra, Yngwie Malmsteen, Dream Theater, early Queensryche Iron Maiden, and … so many greats. Orion Riders must be tired of being held up against all those bands, but the point is – their music is worthy of those comparisons! It is brilliantly executed power metal with the sounds of orchestras and choirs and a truly stellar vocalist. In fairness to Orion Riders we'll stop with the comparisons, and allow a brief description of the first track and the intro to the second to convey an idea of what to expect.
It starts with a few seconds of dark sound effects (you can imagine this being an excellent build up to the stage walk-on in a live show). String and church organ sounds follow, then enter Joe Lombardo singing a short piece in operatic style, while a piano is introduced into the mix under the vocals. The singing pulls back and is replaced by a wonderful piano passage played over the accompaniment of cellos. Track two crashes in with the full compliment of metal instrumentation, led by a simple riff, and with those (sampled) orchestral sounds now receded way into the background. And all this happens in less than 3 minutes.
You getting the picture? Rich, varied sounds, orchestrals and choirs, tight progressive metal arrangements, and a vocalist with a range and power that ranks among the very best in the business. There are trumpets and violins, excellent dual guitar work, sweeping piano and keyboard passages, blistering guitar solos, and – here's something unusual – lyrics that are worth following (despite Lombardo's accented delivery.)
Listen for the power ballad "Life's Best Days" – beautiful, powerful, an excellent showcase for the band's versatility.
There is nothing new in A New Dawn. You've heard it all before. But it is such a virtuoso performance and such a melodic piece of music that it really doesn't have to break new ground – it should be appreciated on its own merits. If the debut album is a precursor of things to come, future power metal acts just may be compared with Orion Riders.
1 In Memory (02:45)
2 Whispers (04:55)
3 A New Dawn (06:54)
4 Leave The Shades Behind (05:31)
5 Lacrimae Angel (00:40)
6 Light And Dark (07:34)
7 Life's Best Days (05:11)
8 Nocturne (01:37)
9 Old Symphony (06:32)