Review Summary: In the face of need, even gods are convinced
It has been seven years since I submitted one of my first reviews to this site, commenting on Need’s Orvam: A Song for Home
, praising it for the instrumental dexterity, production and general theme, without thinking it would be a part of a much larger concept regarding self, darkness and existence. In 2017, we were graced by the follow up Hegaiamas: A Song for Freedom
, which paid even more attention to detail, and now, four years later, we have the last instalment of the ''Songs'' trilogy, Norchestrion: A Song for the End
What Need are, at first glance, is a progressive metal band, drawing inspiration from all big names in the game, particularly Fates Warning and Nevermore. The experienced listener might also pick up Dream Theater vibes from Bloodlux
’s intro, or be reminded by the more ceremonial aspect of Tool on Ananke
’s brooding intro. However, Need are not mimicking, rather than filtering all those ideas and styles, and they have undeniably built their own persona. Eastern melodies are interwoven in the compositions, revealing some of the band’s Mediterranean roots, along with their tendency to dress their music with a mystical, tribal flair.
One might be estranged by the choice of so many mispronounceable words in the titles, like, what the hell does Hegaiamas mean, you pretentious New Age hippie
? Ravaya, aka, George Tzavaras, the band’s leading composer, also responsible for the titles, has masked his references and messages appropriately, so the more dark and desperate Orvam
is inspired by reversing the Greek word for Black (Mavro), Hegaiamas
means ''Our Land'' (Η Γαία Μας), and Norchestrion
references the machines that play music with the use of rolled sheets and levers. So apparently, there are many messages, bastardized words from many languages, sounds from different cultures, and an undeniable passion for progressive metal to be found in Need’s discography.
On paper it works, but does it actually work in practice? I have already established that Need belong to a rich stage, however they manage to stray from many neo-prog trends that tire the genre. Overly dramatic orchestral arrangements, instrumental show-off, labyrinthine compositions that lead nowhere, they are all scrapped. No matter how long the song, from a 3 minute speed trip, to 20 minute epics, the music flows elegantly, from movement to movement, from riff to riff. Instead of trying to impress, the songs aim to immerse, so that when Ananke
ends it doesn’t really feel like one third of the hour has passed by. Theatrical dialogue V.a.d.i.s.
in the middle of the album also helps relieve the ears after a relentless streak of bangers, while functioning as a more apparent nod to the concept of ''end'' (as previous Hotel Oniro
accordingly did on their respective albums). In Norchestrion
, Need let loose quite often, letting many different sounds , from the more rock Avia
, with a small synth solo that pays tribute to our ‘80s nostalgia, to the anthemic Nemmortal
where the stupid lyric «I’ve become so dark and sinister» shouldn't but does make sense, to the jaw-dropping bass line of Circadian
. Need are mature enough to write addictive songs and memorable choruses, while still going nuts on the instrumental level. That’s compositional prowess and instrumental proficiency.
Jon V’s voice is yet again soaring high, pulling off even more demanding parts that could crumble easily, i.e. the mourning microtonal parts in the middle of the title track. He doesn’t sing all the parts, however, as keyboardist Antonis Hatzis performs the harsher vocals on it, or actor Aquila Karazisis lends his voice for the closing track Kinwind
, which by the way is one of the most moving moments, closing the curtain not only for the album, but for the whole concept of Songs.
Need’s best offering to date? That’s a moot point, because I’d rather think of it as the best way to say goodbye to the Songs format. It is admirable that the band has actually created one of modern prog’s best streak of albums, with little to no flaws, a tight theme, and artistic consistency, but in no way homogenous, as each part has its own distinct character. In the growing population of progressive metal acts, it is difficult end in itself to put out one masterpiece, let alone three
. Need have created an entity that borrows from all the good elements in the genre but stands on its own, that merges cultures and languages, yet doesn’t sound disjointed, that uses a specific format but doesn’t become repetitive. This is the way I want to interpret Norchestrion: A Song for the End
, as a song for finality, for sure, but more importantly, as a celebration of the end that drives us forward, the mountain's peak in the distance, the destination and the perseverance to fill the need of arrival.