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Label: Ikaros Records / Release date: 12th January 2021
Four years, almost to the day, have passed since the release of the previous album from Greek prog metal band Need. Hegaiamas:a song for freedom, was an outstanding example of how to combine classic aspects of prog metal/rock with modern ones. The balance between the two as well as the overall quality of performance and songwriting, made that album one of the prog highlights of 2017.
Four years might have passed since, but Norchestrion: a song for the end is a very much a logical continuation. Taking into the consideration how significant step forward production quality experienced on the previous album as well as how well it was executed, it makes sense to continue down the similar path.
And the same goes for the music as well, because one of the main aspects of the 2017 release was the uncanny ability to blend different eras of progressive music into a whole that not only felt coagulated and had good flow, but it also feels as band’s own. As yes, it does feel like their own, not so much because of some groundbreaking distinctiveness, but rather because of the way they combine all these different characteristics.
So, taking all this into the consideration it’s clear that this album is in many ways a very direct continuation of the previous album and there isn’t much new here. At first glance, that is. Because while the band uses many similar formulas the growth on Norchestrion: a song for the end is actually nothing short of colossal.
Need have created an even better flow as well as succeeded in taking the production principles of the previous album and giving them a purposeful tweak. There is more warmth and physique to the overall sound, which makes it even stronger sounding. They have also worked on the drum sound, which is still massive and well balanced, but more rounded and with noticeably less of that sharp over-compressed snare sound that still stands as a thorn in the eye on masterpiece that is Dream Theater’s 1992 album Images & Words. Vocals might be even more diverse, but the biggest change is a whole new understanding of nuances and sensibilities within the vocal delivering and sense for melody.
The band bobbles with full spectra of creativity. The core of songwriting is even more thought-through, while the arrangements are additionally playful, yet always serving the overall feel of the songs/album. The overall eminence is the biggest proof of growth for the band on this album. Even when the band goes in a more jam-like direction on there is solid veil of purpose over the exhibitionism.
The band really comes around, and diversity is a key word, despite the eminent overall flow of the album. The album opens gorgeously with “Avia”, which is a good representation of this band in a compact form. “Nemmortal” is catchy and more straight-forward while at the same time undeniably proggy. “Bloodlux”, is jam-like extravaganza, which never steps out of overall feel of the album. “Norchestrion” is epic centerpiece and one of the absolute highlights of the album, together with
“Circadian”, which perfectly, yes perfectly, checks all the Need-boxes. With “V.a.d.i.s.” band once again delivers basically a spoken-word piece with background music, just like they did in the past. And just like in the past, while well executed and with a relevant topic, it just lacks the overall feel and dramatic quality, which is one of the key points of such pieces. Placed in the middle of the album it might be intended as a “breather”, but unfortunately it stick out and doesn’t serve the flow of the album. “Ananke” is the almost 19 minutes long epic, which only feels few minutes too long. It’s followed by short closing track “Kinwind”, which unlike any other track on the album comes across as traditional song driven by vocals and atmospheric background synth sounds. As such it doesn’t match the rest of the album and one could argue that it doesn’t work as a closer. But on the other hand, there is almost cliffhanger quality to it, which makes it come across as a bridge or intro to what will be band’s next release.
Need’s previous album was testament to this band’s qualities as well as their potential. With Norchestrion: a song for the end the band realized their potential, creating an almost flawless album.
Anno 2021, Need have cementer their position as one of the most interesting newer prog acts out there and it would be highly surprising if this album doesn’t make it to top 10 of 2021 lists, gain it only being January. It would also be surprising if this Greek band in years to come doesn’t build critical acclaim and an international career worthy of Riverside.