Kicking off with another apology as I was first dropped a line about this album a month ago. Oops. Still, better late than never and I am glad I checked it out – however delayed.
Fronted by Iliana Tsakiraki, with her varied vocal style, this Greek band formed barely a year ago though all the members seem to have quite a bit of experience elsewhere.
One thing I really like about the album as a whole is that it gives all the members a chance to shine. Often, for example, keyboards are left to sit in the background and fill in some dead space. On this album, however, Marianthe is given centre stage on many occasions for a short “keyboard solo”. The brief bridge/solo featuring those notes intertwined with the guitar work of Steelianos towards the end of “Lifeless Eyes” is nothing short of brilliant.
The band have gone for a mixture of metal, prog, symphonic and opera – I would assume playing on the strengths of each member. The prog stylings aren’t pervasive, but one area where it is felt is in styling and storytelling of a four-track “sequence” which occurs mid-album. I’ll let the promo material detail the story, but trust me when I say that the tracks match up to the ambitious sound of the description (one for the Greek scholars!):
“The album includes a 4-track sequence, based on the Greek myth of Orpheus & Eurydice. However, in this version the story is narrated by one of the Maenads (female followers of Dionysus) who tells a story of love and tragedy, while at the end of the myth it turns out that she was among the women that killed Orpheus, as they ripped him apart with their own hands.
In more detail, the track ‘Her Descending Ghost’ begins the story with the tragic death of Eurydice by snakebite, shortly after her wedding. ‘The Bargaining’ is about the descent of Orpheus to the Underworld, where he faces Hades in an attempt to claim back his wife’s soul. On ‘Grief Divine’ Orpheus starts ascending back to Earth with Eurydice quietly following him, while in a moment of mistrust and agony he ignores the only warning of Hades that was not to look back at her before they have both reached the surface.
Finally, on ‘Torn Apart’ Orpheus returns to Earth alone, where he mourns the loss of his wife for a second time. At that time, he gets surrounded by the Maenads who, out of jealousy and anger, tear him apart limb from limb and throw his head and lyre in the river Evros.”
The first track in this sequence, “Her Descending Ghost”, is perhaps the most prog-influenced on the album with a couple of areas featuring guitars and keyboards in disjointed arrhythmia. Not my style of music, to be fair, but there’s not enough of it to outweigh the remainder of the track which is far more symphonic and impressive.
There’s no denying that Rejected Gods offers a huge amount of variety in terms of style, yet it doesn’t seem disjointed. You never get the feeling that one member of the band is trying to force their style over the others. It all blends together, and on many occasions is quite orchestral.
Guest vocals abound and work particularly well on the likes of “The Bargaining” where another character needs a voice.
I didn’t expect to write quite so much for this review – in fact I aim to write short ones due to lack of time – but I found myself enjoying it and waffling on a bit!
Rejected Gods is available now (via F.Y.B. Records or the band’s bigcartel page), and the first video from it (“Needle Bites”) will be out next month. In the meantime, there’s a lyric video for “The Bargaining” below for you.