MICHAEL HARRIS - ORCHESTRATE review
Lion Music - Out Now
“Orchestrate” sees world acclaimed guitarist Michael Harris back with the most ambitious album of his career. With a style best described as "Neo Orchestral Metal” the album is a modern day masterpiece. One listen reveals the unique combination of electric guitar playing a very “classical meets metal” style with an orchestra and metal drumming complete with stunning guitar virtuosity. Fans of Yngwie’s Concerto album and Uli Jon Roth’s works on ‘Transcendental Sky Guitar’ will have some idea of the basis to which Michael has taken his cues from, but to limit this album as a wannabe of the above would be selling it cheaply. ‘Orchestrate’ is simply a work of original beauty with immense guitar work that manages to combine a near perfect marriage of melody and technicality over orchestral backings which are both intelligent in their composition and stunning in their arrangement. Yet the album manages to fuse rock drumming and metal rhythms into the work.
The production of the album is also superb. Michael’s guitar tone is nearer to the Uli Roth school of tone than the Yngwie Strat attack and to some degree this tonality may well have pitched where Michael takes the orchestral backing. Opener ‘Opus Concerto’ is nothing short of breathtaking with in its music, guitar work but also production. ‘String Theory’ sees Michael take his guitar through every conceivable emotion there is the neo-classical genre from deft grace notes to blow your head off fretboard melting. The majestic ‘The Mad Composers Rage’ is a full on classical metal assault. ‘Notes From The Kursk’ has a dark and menacing Russian/Slavik vibe to it. ‘Battle At Storms Edge’ is probably the easiest track for straight metal heads to get into and reminded me a little of James Byrd’s ‘Out Of The Temple’ (from Son Of Man) which his no bad thing at all. The acoustic ‘Guiprice’ is short and concise yet musically beautiful before ‘Mysterioso’ sees the music go more towards traditional neo-classical waters which is further built upon with ‘Octavian II’. ‘The Anti Shred’ sees more restrained music come back to the fray and sees the main melody from ‘String Theory’ rearranged which is a nice turnaround before ‘Schizo Forte’ rips your head off with its cocked wah pedal tone full of counterpoints, impressive drumming from Matt Thompson whose work is equally as impressive throughout as Harris’s guitar. I view this track as Michaels own version of say a Trilogy Suite Op.5 (Yngwie Malmsteen – Trilogy) i.e. strong melodies intertwined with virtuoso guitar and its a great way to the end the album.
Overall Michael Harris has delivered what should be viewed as a classic of the neo-classical (or neo-orchestral) genre. There is plenty here for even the most hardened guitar addict to sink their teeth into yet enough accessibility for the more casual listener to enjoy. Overall a highly recommended release.
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