Intro: Lefteris Statharas
While 2020 was bidding us farewell, Need were releasing singles off their upcoming album making us wanting 2021 to come even faster. With high expectations, we were waiting for Norchestrion: A Song for the End, the album that would close the trilogy that started with ORVAM: A Song for Home (2014). Hegaiamas: A Song for Freedom (2017) broadened their fanbase, especially since they also worked hard touring Greece and Europe. It is time to see if Norchestrion: A Song for the End will meet the expectations and bring them to greater and even better paths.
Norchestrion closes the trilogy of the “A song for..” albums that Need started in 2014 with ORVAM: A Song for Home. Norchestrion: A Song for the End does not steer away – at least architecturally – from its predecessors. That is the album’s unsurprising facet if you are familiar with the way the band’s two previous albums had been structured. However, there is a distinct improvement in the songwriting, a growth in the abilities and a more mature approach to deconstruct their influences.
The opener Avia immediately sets the tone with the very melodic chorus, and Jon V channeling his inner Ray Alder regarding the heavy emotion that serves the song. Beckethead emphasizes the emotional link between the music and the lyrics. One thing that needs to be mentioned is how great the guitar solos are in the whole album, not only compared to the previous albums but even to Ravaya’s solo work. It is probably some of his best work to date.
In Nemmortal and Bloodlux, Need show their heavier side with drummer Stelios Paschalis and bassist Viktor Kouloubis carrying the groove. The rhythm changes and the dynamics alongside the guitar melodies and the vocal lines make the tracks catchier, containing everything that a progressive metal fan would look for in an album. Jon V’s performance in these songs is also notable. It is interesting to see how individual members challenge themselves to meet the expectations they have for the songs they want to create.
V.a.d.i.s. is the short act play track of the record. It serves as a breather before the second, very dense half of the album, and it also gives a more direct glance of the band’s philosophical concerns. The result may sound a bit cheesy to some, but it certainly serves a purpose in the story arc of the album in a unique way.
Norchestrion is dense, full of great ideas that flow perfectly, showing great mastery in songwriting. It sounds like one of those songs that could be the epic track of the album, but Need expand their ideas just enough to create an engaging song. The epic song here is Ananke but before that we have the addictive Circadian which if not for its great concert like structure, might have been lost since it’s bookended by the denser tracks.
Ananke is one of those Dream Theater-meets-Pain of Salvation epic tracks that take some time to unfold, where the band gives time and space to develop patterns and ideas. The good thing about tracks like that is that even if some ideas aren’t as interesting, it’s not long after when the next one comes. Ananke is probably not as great as the band’s two previous epic tracks, but still it’s a song that would make any new prog metal fan feel inspired.
The album ends with the Kinwind, a song about the coming days sung in Greek by actor Akyllas Karazisis. Not sure how an international audience would react to a closing track like this, but it does provide the last big breath that one takes after experiencing an album like that. That’s because Norchestrion: A Song for the End is an album that is best consumed when listened from start to finish.
In a time when the kings of old released great albums, it feels more paramount to talk about the future of the progressive metal sound. Psychotic Waltz and Fates Warning will not be around for a long time, and more importantly, you can’t expect them to continue creating a sound that will breathe new life into the progressive metal genre. Bands like Need, Leprous, and Mother of Millions should create the same sense of anticipation like our heroes of old.
9 / 10
Norchestrion: A Song for the End is probably the most experimental album of Need, without though losing their metal character (there are even death metal vocals here). The piano makes an emphatic entry and has an important role next to this riff machine that goes by the name of Ravaya. The whole band is guided by inspiration and fortunately has Jon Voyager at behind the mic, who dresses the moods of the album with the appropriate colors. Although I do not think any piece is inferior in quality, I would single out a little more than the rest the longest piece in the album, Ananke. Here, the band’s influences, coming from the golden age of progressive metal and modern references to bands like Haken, are tamed by the personality of Need, who set up a musical feast. Despite its duration which exceeds one hour, Norchestrion: A Song for the End is not tiring at all, and has the secret to renew the listener’s interest from track to track.
In conclusion, Need proves once again that consists of five talented musicians whose coexistence produced another great record. Can’t wait to witness their superb live shows again, this time for their new album, when of course we manage to overcome this pandemic.
8.5 / 10