Order of Nine
Seventh Year of the Broken Mirror
Style: Thrash Metal
Release date: 22 May, 2012
Playing time: 62:39

Ever wondering what would happen if our own master of gothic & doom metal, the legendary towering stature, by the name of Peter Steele (R.I.P. metal brother) front man from ‘Type O Negative’, would leave the darkness and embark on a musical journey into unfamiliar territories of thrash and progressive soundscapes? Maybe we have found an answer here…Order of Nine.

The band has existed on the metal scene for a while, formed in 1997 under the name ‘Templar’. They unleashed the debut album “A Touch of Winter’s Discontent” to the hungry heavy metal crowd two years later with the support from label company Hellion Records. Developing their unique style of power metal and taking the name ‘Order of Nine’ from the first and most powerful military order the Knights Templars, they caught the attention from heavyweight metal champ Lance King (the metal icon behind progressive metal label company ‘Nightmare Records’ ), and a second album ‘Of Once and Future Kings’ was released in 2002. Two full-length albums followed up and were released in 2003 and 2008 by “the knights”, trying to conquer the minds of the metalheads all over the world.

This is the fifth album entitled ‘Seventh Year of the Broken Mirror’ by the quintet, and it’s a crusade of 11 tracks presenting the listener with a musical journey running approx. 1 hour. After defeats and other reasons, some of the knights of the order have been replaced with new recruits of faith and hope. Today ‘the order’ is presented by front man Michael DeGrena, with his massive deep voice putting fear into his enemies, accompanied by his fellow axe- and swordsmen Tom Donaldson (bass), Scott Haggerty (guitar & keyboard), Steve Pollick (guitar) and last be not least, J.R. Jameson on drums.

It’s a talented and experienced group playing haunting dark symphonic melodies, spiced up with progressive and thrash elements. With this album they have progressed from their well-known sound of heavy and power metal, proving that they are masters of technically playing style as well.

The search for the “Holy Grail” begins with the opening title track ‘Seventh Year of the Broken Mirror’ and perfectly demonstrates, what to expect from the remaining 10 tracks. It’s melodic with aggressive, catchy guitar riffs and the very unique and distinct vocal performance by DeGrena is good, who has a very deep tone to his voice, which transforms into a harsh brawling beast during the choruses. Some other highlights on this album, is the second track ‘Words that were Said’ with its use of very fast guitar shreds and fast tight drumming. Add DeGrena’s slow harsh screams (almost spoken words) and piano parts into the mixture, and we have a hit. Third track ‘Dreamspeak’ introduces our eardrums with mesmerizing keyboard tones, many tempo changes and odd rhythms throughout the song. It’s heavy and progressive, that will please many metalheads out there. Soundwise the next track ‘Spiral Staircase’ follows the same road with its progressive elements and heavy riffs, still very good and convincing. Fifth song has incorporated oriental elements and acoustic guitar play with fast powerful drumming and aggressive guitar riffs. The tenth song ‘Reign Down’ will be zapping your ears with thunder and lightning, building up the atmosphere that surrounds the entire song, and still have the same melody and progressive touch as the previous tracks. Last track ‘Winter’s Call’ is a perfect ending of this musical journey, with its atmospheric intro of blowing winds and keyboards syncs, alongside the haunting deep vocals from DeGrena in the background.

Did the knights of the order find the “Holy Grail” with their latest effort? Yes and no…

The production has a heavy sound added to the mix, which makes this release sound very powerful and majestic at the same time, so thumps up for the exceptional mastering work by Jens Bogren (Symphony X, Opeth, amongst others), and the mixing done by the members of “the order”. Also the singing style of DeGrena must be paid attention to. It’s very impressive, unique and distinctive with his use of deep low-register notes and harsh growls (not used very often), though his pipes in the mid register are at times sounding too forced. DeGrena’s singing style will definitely be the turning point for some listeners in a good or bad way. Not to forget, are the remaining knights/musicians. Each of them providing great musically skills to the battle field, from the stunning aggressive guitar riffs by Scott and Steve to the heavy pounding drumming sounds by J. R.

Old fans of their previous works will not be disappointed, even though some heavy influences and elements from thrash and progressive music are to be found among the 11 tracks, making this the most versatile album released to date by the hands of ‘Order of Nine’. If aggressive guitar riffs, fast pounding drums, odd rhythms, catchy melodies, dynamic song structures and a convincing vocal performance all delivered in a high quality package, makes you drool mindlessly, then give this album a spin or two and prepare yourself to surrender and become one of the followers of the order.

01. Seventh Year of the Broken Mirror
02. Words that were Said
03. Dreamspeak
04. Spiral Staircase
05. Changing of the Guard
06. Innocence
07. Third Wish
08. Eye of the Enemy
09. Twelfth Talisman
10. Reign Down
11. Winter's Call
Label: Nightmare Records
Distribution: Nightmare Records
Artwork rating: 88/100
Reviewed by: Tommy Skøtt
Date: 14 June, 2012
Website: www.myspace.com/orderofnine