Oryad – Hymns of Exile and Decay
I have to be honest with you, guys. When I first read ¨metal opera meets gothic outlook and ancient rituals¨, I was not really excited, as yet other hundred metal bands have described themselves as such, so, in an oversaturated market like opera – gothic metal, you have to be extremely creative or have a distinctive approach to make it; also my preference will not often go to operatic voices. I do not fancy myself as a voice connoisseur, but I know enough about it to believe that it is hard to find an operatic voice that has a unique timbre, So you could understand that, at first, my ears were not open to the experience that was listening to Oryad (plot twist spoiler).
So I started focusing on some other things at first, things that really impressed me from the beginning, starting with Inflammatus. One of them being the drummer Matt Gotlin-Sheehan, who shows such imaginative and creative rhythmic figures: drum dynamics that set a very special touch to the experience of listening to Rossini’s Stabat Mater.
I continued with ¨Black is the Color of my True Love’s Hair¨, a folk tune from Appalachia which has been covered plenty of times. One of my personal favourites being Nina Simone’s version who had set the bar high. Starting with an atmospheric dense harmony and Moira’s mezzo timbre, enriched by subtle switches from chest voice to head voice. Giving continuity to the harmony, the hypnotic guitar solo by Luca Grieman, who also stole my heart in ¨Immersion¨ with that harmonic minor scale at 3:06; but what made me fell completely for this song were the lyrics and melody in charge of Moira Murphy.
Intrigued by the dense poetry she puts in every song, we chat a little bit with Moira, she told us – ¨I write most of my poetry while hiking in the woods, really connected to nature. I write mostly about grief, mortality, and our small place in a huge universe […] Poetically, I’m really inspired by Stephen Crane, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Verlaine, and Camus¨. This was exactly when I started understanding Oryad: With the precise mix and mastering throughout the album, it sets the perfect atmosphere and ambience that immerses you deep into those Denver forests and vastness of the universe.
Continuing with ¨Doxology¨, in which I would have preferred the continuity of the atmospheric experience with less presence of the voice in the vocalization of the beginning of the song: the only choice from mix and master I would have changed; however it was in the chorus where Moira’s voice started to win my heart: warm timbre, with the exact amount of metal in the voice to sound powerful, yet tender. Moira not only delivers an outstanding performance, but creates tiny worlds in every song.
With ¨Sacrifice¨, although it gives a nice turn from the ballad-y sound of Oryad, it feels somehow forced with the addition of the piano, and the less operatic vocals from Moira (for someone who at the beginning just told you he’s not into operatic vocals, you can laugh now) – Yes – changes can be very refreshing, but also to create a solid concept sometimes we need to ¨sacrifice¨ for the greater good.
Ending credits with the fantastic ¨Hymn of the End¨ which celebrates the virtuosity of each band member, last but not lest from the bassist Adam Sanders: precise, in tune with drums, with thick sound and balanced. This is why I almost always review the bass after having heard the whole album. Well Adam, job well done!
Conclusions: I really enjoyed listening to ¨Hymns of Exile and Decay”, it was an unexpected surprise, and, enclosing my primal thought about the opera–gothic metal scene, yes, Oryad is on the right track to find that distinctiveness from other gothic bands which will definitely make me keep an eye on them and check what other surprises they will bring.