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Orne - The Tree Of Life CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.52 | 28 ratings

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3 stars Enter the crypt

It has been said before, but you can really hear and feel whenever you're listening to a Black Widow Records affiliate. There is a prevailing sombre and Gothic vibe to these acts that mostly come off sounding appropriately dark and menacing in all the right ways, instead of mimicking the sort of frights and terrors you get from a slice and dice horror movie with big breasted females and the mute axe killer with a limp.

Orne is no exception to this rule, and once you've ventured but a few seconds into this their second outing, it becomes apparent just how much these Gothic black sinister atmospheres play into the thing. My fellow reviewer from the Italian quarters Finnforest describes this as some kind of fog drifting through bone-yards, and I can perfectly follow his association. To tell you the truth, I was picturing something similar the first time I popped this mother on the stereo. The switch from doom metal band to sombre Gothic prog rock band is clearly still reverberating within Finnish act Orne, manifesting itself in the moods of the melancholic guitar glissandi, the pitch black plowing of the bass and the ancient cabinet organs taken directly from the Pharaoh's crypt.

The one thing that to me drives this album is those organs. They sound like a mixture of the aforementioned last resting place of the Egyptian rulers, but adding to that slightly bonkers metaphor there is something futuristic happening as well. Deep within the signal of this instrument lies a fluttering firefly - a fencing laser beam - a sonic sword that oscillates accordingly to what the organ is doing at any given moment. It brings something new to this ancient horror movie antiquity, and furthermore had me listening like a man trying to emulate one of those pictures that once were taken of John Lennon kneeling down in New York with a stethoscope to the ground - trying with all his might to tell what was wrong with the world at the time. Just from the top of my head: I am thinking a lot, but I digress...

You can really picture and feel how the metal got dropped in favour of the bitter-sweet sounds of this current formation. The picture here at PA says it all really, as the guys still wear big crosses, black shirts and loooong hair. The power of metal is still there in the drum pedals and the guitars, although they're harnessed and kept under wraps - amounting to the kind of atmosphere you'd get on an early Metallica ballad like Fade to Black - only bereft of the explosions.

Together with the horror cabinet soundtrack of the organs - there is indeed a melancholic vibe going on here that more than often takes me to Sweden and bands like Anekdoten and Morte Macabre. We are becoming increasingly skilled in conveying the hollow winds and freezing colds of our changing weathers up here in Scandinavia, and Orne are certainly no slouches in this department either. I get images of abandoned cathedrals, howling wolfs in the snow and a sense of unearthly bond with the black beauty of night that quite entrancingly marries together with the overall ambiance of the band.

Gluing all of these wild images together is one heck of a booming voice. Oh yeah I nearly got you going there - thinking this release was all instrumental, but you'd be wrong... Somewhere between Jim Morrison, Brendan Perry and Patric Helje off Landberk lies vocalist Sami Albert "Witchfinder" Hynninen. Even if he reminds me a bit of all those singers, it still doesn't truly forward the uniqueness of this man's vibe. First time I heard his vocals, I was somewhat dumbstruck and felt the whole thing getting a tad too Gothic for its own good. Maybe I am a purist of some sort, but there are only a few singers who have been successful with that special manly clean-breasted voice, that sounds like impending doom and bellowing Nordic deities all at the same time, and those are the aforementioned vocalists, maybe excluding Helje on this one because he wields a feminine touch as well that doesn't really go hand in hand with what I am getting at here, - and the original lord of boom: Frank Sinatra. I have since then warmed up to Hynninen's timbre, and now it is an irreplaceable part of the equation.

The Witchfinder here does add a sombre groove to the proceedings with his dark and warm voice, which contradicts the cold hard Scandinavian nature of the music, but, and here I am speaking entirely out of preference, sometimes it gets a bit too much for this listener. My favourite tracks on here, where the marriage between music and vocals truly takes off, are the shorter ones called Don't Look Now and the following Beloved Dead.

Tree of Life is heartily recommended to fans of the bitter-sweet side of Porcupine Tree, the ghastly cold of Anekdoten and the stark black beauty of the Scandinavian night. 3.5 stars.

Guldbamsen | 3/5 |


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