"Seventh Year of the Broken Mirror"

By Dr. Abner Mality

Order of Nine is kind of a tough nut to crack. Originating from Pennsylvania, this band actually has quite an extensive history and were originally called Templar. "Seventh Year of the Broken Mirror" (clever title, by the way) is actually their fifth full length, but I'm sorry to say this is the first I've heard of the band.

The music has been described as dark progressive thrash metal and I'd say that is fairly accurate, but not across the board. There's a lot of melodic power metal in the vein of early Queensryche and Fates Warning to be found here and there's nothing wrong with that. Perhaps the overall best comparison would be a more melodic version of Nevermore. What really throws you for a loop are the unique vocals on this record. The vocalist has a very deep, langorous voice, never shouting, never screaming. To make a really strange comparison, the guy sounds like Manilla Road's Mark Shelton with a deeper voice and after about 5 gallons of Robitussin. The vocals will make or break Order of Nine for most people. I'm right in the middle. They add a dream-like touch to certain passages, but at other times, it just sounds like the guy is disinterested and holding back. You really need to hear it to judge for yourselves of traditional power metal vocals will be befuddled.

The songs also have a lot of range. The opening title track is one of the highlights, a long and well arranged moody cruncher...not what I'd typically call thrash but very gripping. The guitarists here are excellent and really know what they are doing. The thrashier side comes to the fore with "Changing of the Guard", which fans of Nevermore and maybe even Testament will really dig. A whole new side to the band is revealed with the epic "Eye of the Enemy", the album centerpiece. For the first time, we get a sizable keyboard infusion and some truly haunting melodies bound up in a track which throws a lot at the listener. Bringing you back down to Earth is a very average "Twelfth Talisman", which sounds by the numbers and nothing special. "Reign Down" brings another strong dose of power thrash before the album ends with the piano ballad "Winter's Call".

A multi-faceted album with both strong and weak points. Again, I have to say, if you can adapt to the vocals here, you'll likely find "Seventh Year of the Broken Mirror" very interesting. I'll be interested to see what they come up with in the future.