Genre: Epic Heavy/Doom Metal
Label: Metal Zone Italia
In times difficult and strange like the ones we are going through -searching for albums that matter, among hundreds of mediocre releases-, it is more than obvious that we need an Epic Metal album that shall unite us all.
No matter if you are a worshiper of the absolute classics, or a nostalgic adventurer of the early 00s Epic Metal revival, or a follower of the newer revisionists and their formulas, or even a nerd mainly into epic literature, you need to stand united under the flag of one single album, that shall bring union to the Epic Metal underground.
And this album is the actual comeback of a band from Catania, Sicily, Italy. An album that will be released 23 years after the band’s debut (they actually split up in 2007 and reformed back in 2014). It is the second full length of the band ORDALIA and it is called “Odes for Victory”.
ORDALIA is a very old story. Founded back in 1987 under the name NO RULES delivering an interesting combination of Heavy and Thrash Metal. On 1991 they would change their name and their musical direction:
Since their very early ORDALIA days the Italians were musically focusing on a very special type of Epic Doom Metal, slow, dark and pounding. Those who are aware of their “Mormegil” promo tape from 1997 and their “The Return of the King” debut from 2000, are surely aware of the above situation. However I must admit that the musical realm of the band was carefully expanding into the general Epic Metal formulas even from those earlier days of the promo tape and the debut. Well I can assure you that this is the main case for their newer, comeback release:
ORDALIA would take the Epic Doom Metal musicianship as a starting point in order to build an overall Epic Metal sound, adding much more elements, tempos and vibes into it.
I can refer to one of the band’s most serious influences, SOLSTICE from the United Kingdom, as they have also been into the very same, described above, mood on their music. But ORDALIA have many more influences that have inspired the vision of their latest masterpiece:
Bands like MANOWAR –second and third album-, DOOMSWORD -especially the first album era, and yes I am very serious about this statement-, DARK QUARTERER -again I have to refer to their debut masterpiece-, ISEN TORR, LETHEAN, early SORCERER, early OLD SEASON, MANILLA ROAD (“The Deluge”), ETERNAL CHAMPION, early BATTLEROAR, WRATHBLADE, early WOTAN and of course DOMINE (debut).
Inspired by all the above ORDALIA are delivering an outstanding Epic Metal full length that pays tribute to the masters but on the very same time highlights the band’s magnificent songwriting.
All the above are offered under a Mediterranean installment that does not have to do with a straight musical reference -for example scales or similar stuff- but mainly to the vibe that is hidden behind the music. A vibe that activates a serious, secret connection with the Italian and the Greek Epic Metal bands -and listeners- a connection that can mainly experienced and not described.
The key parts
The riffs: The riffing is heavy and solid in slower to mid and even some faster tempos. You will be able to hear some Doom riffs in here but it is obvious that the pounding and epic guitar parts are the big deal in here.
The vocals: The voice is one of the most important elements on this album. Dramatic, epic, sometimes mournful but always experiential.
Rhythm section: As heavy as it can be.
The acoustic parts: The acoustic parts that can be heard in some of the songs play an important role to the overall album’s atmosphere.
A very serious amount of this album’s force is generated by the lyrics of the songs: From the strange realms of Fritz Leiber and the city of Lankhmar, to Valusia, the greatest of the seven nations. From the legend of Merlin and Viviene to the demonology reference about Belial’s curse, the lyrics included on this full length are remarkable. I liked the fact that the lyrics are given on a straight and simple -not simplistic- way. Although I may be a fan of the fantasy and historical literature oriented installment of bands like ATLANTEAN KODEX or PROTEAN SHIELD that often handle their lyrics through a novel-alike development, I can sure point that ORDALIA’s lyrics spoke to my heart instantly.
Let me also take a second and point that on the album’s cover we can see the great original artwork of Andrea Bulgarelli.
“Odes for Victory”: An instrumental opener that would get you right away to the album’s world. Lots of VIRGIN STEELE vibe on this one
“Doomed”: The verse vocal melody is based on the usual ETERNAL CHAMPION formula upon a basic mid tempo riff. Good song, but you should wait for the mighty ones.
“Valusia”: An Epic Metal hymn ala early MANOWAR, DARK QUARTERER. Great acoustic epilogue.
“Lankhmar”: Mid tempo, skull crushing opus. ETERNAL CHAMPION vibes on the chorus.
“Dying Sun”: One of the darkest songs of the album. One of my favorites. SOLSTICE and MANOWAR worship.
“Hop-Frog”: The song with the most Doom elements (mmainly thanks to the riffs) compared to the rest of the album’s material.
“Merlin and Viviene”: A narrative, epic and atmospheric, little masterpiece.
“Belial’s Curse”: Epic Metal ala WOATN, SOLSTICE and early SORCERER. A total hymn. One of the best songs of the record if not the best. Yes there are serious Epic Doom Metal touches on this one, but at the end of the day I can only describe it as pure Epic Metal. The fast breaking on the middle of the song is simply outstanding.
Everyone on the Epic Metal underground would enjoy this comeback album. It has them all: Epic songwriting, good riffs and mystical atmosphere. Everything is offered on a straight and into the point way to the listeners that search a great album of their favorite musical genere: Epic Metal.