Friday, February 22, 2019

Album Review: O.R.K. - Ramagehead

O.R.K.’s new album Ramagehead is at the image of its album cover: pretty, intriguing, complex and somewhat abstract. It's progressive rock (for lack of a better word, or for lack of an actually good word) but there are no sterile displays of virtuosity. This isn’t Dream Theater. It’s about colours, textures, moods and ambiance. And mostly, it rocks hard, like a collection of Soundgarden songs played by Tool. In fact the Soundgarden comparison is apt is more ways than one: Lorenzos Esposito Farnasari’s voice sounds a lot like Chris Cornell’s.

The album doesn’t feature any long set pieces with extended instrumentals and jams. These compositions are actual rock songs, in fact it gets pretty heavy, intense and distorted.

Kneel To Nothing opens the album with dark, groovy atmosphere, quasi-tribal drums, haunting vocals, slithering guitar parts and ghostly effects.

Signals Erased starts with atmospheric vocals and intricately intertwined guitar and bass parts, reminiscent of Discipline-era King Crimson. The tune then turns from math-rock to almost metal territory before quieting down again.

Beyond Sight commences as an Elizabethan ballad with an ominous chord progression and beautiful backing vocals. Once the bass and drums enter, the tune becomes groovier but never loses sight of the melody.

Black Blooms is an atmospheric number which features Serj Tankian from System Of A Down on vocals. The choir-like backing vocals and the sinister arpeggios give the tune an ominous, cultish vibe.

Time Corroded is the closest thing to a ballad as this band can create. Of course the intensity picks up as processed sounds and instruments are added in crescendo before the inevitable explosion and release.

Down The Road is another slow number with acoustic guitar and gorgeous backing vocals.

Some Other Rainbow Pt.1 is a gorgeous, almost jazzy short interlude.

Strangled World is a piece of psychedelic metal with epic vocals that dissolves into a very cinematic, almost ethereal soundscape before roaring again.

Some Other Rainbow Pt. 2 picks up where part one left off, with a very Third Stream intro but quickly goes back to more “prog” leanings and ends up very reminiscent of Opeth’s Damnation album.

A very good album that, at under 37 minutes, doesn’t overstay its welcome and features impressive performances by guitarist Carmelo Pipitone and drummer Pat Mastelotto as well as vocalist/keyboardist LEF. But the best feature of the project are the actual songs, heavy yet melodic, complex yet evocative.

Pat Mastelotto playing live with the Crimson ProjeKct in 2014

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