Artist: Orpheus Omega
Album: Wear Your Sins
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Release Date: 29 March 2019
Review by Sam Wolstenholme
When I learned that Australian melodeath heavyweights Orpheus Omega were poised to release a new album after four long years since their 2015 masterpiece “Partum Vita Mortem”, I have to admit I was more than a little bit excited. Any extreme metal fan worth their salt in Australia should be well acquainted with the five-piece’s signature Gothenburg-flavoured sound that has morphed and developed over the course of their first three albums, while they have accumulated numerous national and international tours in the eleven years since their inception. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect with “Wear Your Sins”, the band’s fourth studio release, and I wondered whether they would stick to the comfortable, polished melodeath sound they found in “Partum Vita Mortem”. However, all expectations I had were completely blown out of the water upon listening to this remarkably diverse album, which marks a new chapter as songwriters for the brilliant Melburnians and truly cements their world-class status.
“Wear Your Sins” is a special album for many reasons; first among these is the notably heightened instrumental complexity and creativity the band demonstrates throughout the ten tracks, compared to that of their previous work. Each and every member has well and truly stepped up to the plate from a composition perspective for this release, and it’s clear that the added push to let individual creativity flourish has resulted in a highly innovative collective sound. Opening track “The Lighthouse” exemplifies this, with everything that is the essence of Orpheus Omega and more worked expertly and seamlessly into a mere four-and-a-half minute run time: groovy riffs, scorching guitar solos, catchy melodic hooks, crushing harsh vocals - and a glittering keytar solo! (A personal favourite feature of mine). The collaborations with venerable Insomnium vocalist Niilo Sevänen and talented Valhalore tin whistler Sophie Christensen add extra finesse and folky charm to this track and elevate it from good to great.
This album features notably more clean vocals from frontman Chris Themelco, and I feel that it benefits greatly from this melodic expansion. For instance, the clean vocal-led chorus of “In Time” stands out like a shining ray of light amidst the furious musical maelstrom raging behind it as the instrumental texture of blast beats and urgent, driving riffs reaches maximum intensity. Choruses bolstered by powerful clean vocals become a recurring musical device throughout the album, with Themelco giving particularly impressive performances in the anguished “When Hope Gives Way to Reason” and the epic, sweeping title track, which includes a stirring duet with Cellar Darling songstress Anna Murphy.
The considerable technical skill of each member of this band is more evident on this album than ever before, and the flawless production of this release only serves to further highlight that. Album single “Suffer” is an immersive, whirlwind experience of Lamb of God-like dirty, driving grooves, guttural growls and a blisteringly fast yet impeccably tight drum performance from Matt Themelco. Several tracks feature guitar solos bleeding into complementary keytar solos, in a question-and-answer format that emphasises the instruments’ part in telling the story. On the subject of guitar solos, look out for guest soloist James Norbert Ivanyi’s intricate tapestry of colourful lead guitar sounds on “Unblinking” – given that Orpheus’s core sound is pretty shreddy to begin with, Ivanyi’s style is a very fitting addition here. The prominent and creative bass lines on “Swim in the Black” give Nathan Mesiti a chance to shine, leading up to a killer breakdown section halfway through. All of these strong instrumental elements really come to a head on my favourite track “Wash It All Away”, which is driven by simple yet highly effective melodic hooks, rousing chants, and powerful grooves that give Soilwork and Trivium a run for their money.
“Wear Your Sins” is a tour de force, the culmination of over ten years of sheer hard work, passion and determination by a highly talented group of musicians. I feel that Orpheus Omega have truly found their unique voice with this stunning release. There’s not one filler track on this album. It is a cohesive yet innovative piece of work, with every track a standout and telling its own distinctive tale. Add to that the unbelievable production value and you’ve got an album that does the Australian metal scene very proud indeed.
10 out of 10.
Wear Your Sins is out March 29 on EVP Recordings - pre-order at https://evp-recordings.lnk.to/WearYourSins