In the works for better than six years, the Orpheus Blade project has been the consuming passion of Israeli singer and songwriter Adi Bitran. With the help of Erez Yohanan (Amasefer), and meticulous work in the studio, Wolf's Cry has finally come to light.
While the information about the album is slightly sketchy, it appears this is some sort of a concept album (about a wolf/werewolf?). Bitran sings vocals, but also has male vocalist Henning Basse (Metalium, Epysode) as a significant voice and character throughout the album. Musically, this is melodic heavy metal twisted with power and progressive metal, with more than obvious cinematic and symphonic elements. Put together Wolf's Cry paints a large musical tapestry: rich, bold, bombastic heavy metal theater. In this sense, it share some kinship with Heidi Parviainen's latest project Dark Sarah.
It's clear that Bitran considers herself a storyteller, putting words to paper, and then to music. Then it's safe to say that the story, lyrics and the voice to the same are prominent feature here, and it's true. Yet here's the thing: the vocals and vocal performance was my least favorite part of this album. Death vocals, you ask? No, not really. But, from both vocalist, their voices are all over the place in sound, almost to the point that you can't follow along. (Lyrics can be found on the web site.) Also, there's lots of talking prominent and sometimes garbled underneath, narration or individual expressions as the case may be. The mix and mastering wasn't all that kind to the vocalists either.
Largely, considering these things, on the first spin, I almost ignored the music. With the second spin, I tried to reverse my listening focus. Indeed, I began to catch more of the music: some nice piano woven within the metal, rather lush orchestration, and some fine guitar riffs and leads, all over a strong current of melody and harmony. The dilemma, however, was that my attention kept getting pulled away by the vocals. I know I shouldn't consider that a bad thing, but in this case, I didn't necessarily want to hear the voices. Now, that sucks for a singer songwriter to hear. But it's probably just me, and first impressions can linger at times, stay with me. Your conclusion might differ, and so may mine, if I listen a third or fourth time. But that ain't happening.
As a progressive power concept album, Orpheus Blade's Wolf's Cry is ambitious and extravagant, yet leans largely on the voices and vocals of the characters within.
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