Orpheus Omega – Portraits (EP Review)
Orpheus Omega – Portraits
Released: April 20, 2023
Chris Themelco | Vocals, Lead Guitar
Luke Ashley | Guitar
Olive Keswick Gallagher | Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Leon Monaco | Bass
Matt Themelco | Drums
Sometimes within the plethora of new releases each week it’s easy to miss some high quality local bands sitting right under your nose. I hadn’t heard of Orpheus Omega until the Portraits EP came across my radar for review, despite them having released four albums. Straight up, I’m glad it arrived in my inbox. It’s a refreshing take on melodic death metal, with a great combination of clean/growl vocals and some seriously sharp lead guitar.
Opener ‘Within These Walls’ has a lot going on – with the synths adding a sense of theatricality to what is a fundamentally rock hard metal song. It starts innocently enough with a massive growl and classic lead. The vocal style moves between hardcore grunting from guest Andy Gillion, to death growls and an almost operatic clean style. Plus there are “hey” backing vocals and this sweet little locked in groove. It’s certainly attention grabbing but never awkward and is a bit of an earworm thanks to the clean chorus.
‘Edge of Forever’ slows things a little to really nail the guitar harmony before going in more of a hardcore thrash direction for the verses. There’s some cool keyboard shit going on too if you listen through headphones. It’s quite the anthem that’ll need a bigger stage than clubs to really make use of the huge hook. It’s a strange amalgamation between metalcore and more traditional power metal, with prog contributions from Caligula’s Horse frontman Jim Grey. And then the solo just shreds. There’s little doubt the band aren’t concerned about being in a specific scene and just write songs they like.
‘O, Dissimilate Destruct’ is a nice shift in direction with a moody and atmospheric keyboard led riff and vocals from Olive Keswick Gallagher. The guitars here are complementary to the vibe, much more in the gothic realm than straight death metal. When the tempo picks up it’s a brutal death fest of lightning riffs and thundering drums. It doesn’t lose the keyboards and drifts into a black metal outro that still feels cohesive with the intro. The tranquil keyboard of ‘The Prophecy’ is another red herring once the pure metal onslaught begins. Jukka Pelkonen pops up too with his grind vocal style. It’s very Children of Bodom I suppose, with so many notes in the leads I couldn’t keep with how you’d even play this. It’s probably the most obvious tune to start with if you’re new to the band since it’s arguably the most conventional.
There’s a sense of theatre to much of what Orpheus Omega do, captured by the EP closer ‘Exist to Observe’. It’s a powerful tune that showcases what Chris Themelco can do with his voice in conjunction with Soilwork singer Bjorn Strid. It’s pretty epic going from a shredding lead to a slow tempo ballad section and into blast beat hell. It’s glorious and hammers along like a locomotive to hell.
As an EP it’s hard to fault this as a sampler of what Orpheus Omega brings to the table as a unique take on melodic death metal. It does seem chaotic at times, particularly with the different guests popping up, but there’s a sense of balance to the EP as a whole and certainly wets the appetite for the next LP. Worth checking out for sure.
Orpheus Omega – Portraits Tracklisting:
- Within These Walls (Ft. Andy Gillion)
- Edge Of Forever (Ft. Jim Grey of Caligula’s Horse)
- O, Dissimilate Destruct
- The Prophecy (Ft. Jukka and Markus of Omnium Gatherum )
- Exist To Observe (Ft. Bjorn ‘Speed’ Strid of Soilwork )
Rating: 8.5 / 10
Portraits is out April 20. Get it here
Review by KJ Draven (Twitter and Instagram)