Α progressive, sentimental masterpiece
Sometimes you just get so impatient waiting for the release of an album. Especially when thinking about what would be the next step after an album that not only left its mark on you personally, but was also the start of the worldwide recognition of the band. "Orvam: A Song For Home" was such an album, that was noticed by people even outside the progressive metal circles, and made Need break out of Greece, by playing during ProgPower USA in 2014, where they proved that they are not just generic another progressive metal band.
After such a success, the next step is always vital. Having the utmost respect for the musicians in the band, i was confident that the next release would be at least very good. But to be honest not that good. After multiple listens, i dare to say it. "Hegaiamas" is not just the best album in Need’s catalog, not just one of the best works to ever come out of Greece. It’s the progressive metal album that fans have been waiting for years to listen to, and the big names of the genre would love to release but cannot anymore. A progressive, sentimental masterpiece.
The first taste came with "Rememory", with its beautiful video presentation. An ideal start for the album, it’s a powerful opener and manages to impress with the melodies and the massive sound and riffing throughout. What is immediately obvious, is that besides the great production, the sound and the orchestration are products of a lot of work, with keyboards and the rhythm section having a significant (and more impressive compared to "Orvam") role in the final result.
"Alltribe" from the beginning is like a masterful puzzle, playing games with our rhythmic perception, it’s full of melodies and powerful riffs, while Jon’s vocals give a special character to the song. The keyboard solo brings Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess in mind, but doesn’t warn about the epic finale that leaves you with a nostalgic feeling.
It is apparent that "Hegaiamas" is much heavier compared to its predecessor, and "Therianthrope" is a testament to that, with the return of some brutal vocals from keyboard player Anthony and an interplay between the seven-string guitar and the intricate keyboards that switch from electronic sounds to piano and back to a devilish distorted sound that makes the result even more ominous and interesting. It’s a very dark track, and this is something that is also amplified by the lyrical content, and it’s like a shout of despair in a world that’s becoming more and more egoistic that is blindly walking towards destruction.
Talking about heaviness, we can’t catch a break, with "Riverthane" grabbing us from the beginning. Drummer extrordinaire Stelios is torturing the drumkit before going into a thrashy groove, and a massive riff starts another prog behemoth. It’s a very interesting song, with keyboards again creating a haunting atmosphere and the band being quite aggresive, reminding us of their pre-Orvam sound.
The next track which is one of my favorites is called "Tilikum" and starts in a dreamy way, with a keyboard intro and Jon giving a great performance on vocals. The main rif is one of the best on the album, almost doomy in a sense and i’m sure it will become a fan favorite in the band’s live performances. Once again the masterful combination of all the instruments shows the progressive character of the band that is enchanced by its heaviness. The female vocals are impressive and give way to a fantastic finale. There will be plenty of headbanging when this song is performed live, that’s for sure.
Moving on, the next track is a little weird, based on Anthony’s keyboards and it is more like a soundtrack than a proper song, it kind of reminded me of Hans Zimmer and his work on "Interstellar" in particular, it has a very ethereal and moody atmosphere. During this track, there is a dialog between two people, and it is the thematic link between the previous tracks and the title track that closes the album. These two people analyze their dreams, with one of them realizing that he is dreaming about freedom. In the context of a full album listen it works like an interlude of sorts, but due to its different nature i don’t think it can be considered as a real song, despite being very interesting musically.
We finally get to the title track, a 22-minute opus, a musical orgasm, an anthem to the fight for freedom. I won’t get into detail about the track, since i consider it an immersive experience, and through its multiple themes, melodies and Jon’s great vocal lines it is a showcase of Need’s talent in the best possible way. I will only focus on two points, the intro theme that Ravaya plays on the guitar, who has this incredible way to create melodies that combine prog and ethnic tradition, but also the breathtaking ending of the song and the recurring melody from "Rememory" that gives me shivers every single time. There is also an easter egg after the typical ending of the song, which is left to for the listener to discover and interpret, and which shows the attention to detail as well as the very diverse artistic nature of the band that transcends the confines of music.
It would probably be reduntant to talk about members’ performances and creativity. Need are masters of their craft and one of the most technically advanced bands at the moment, but the fact that they can infuse such emotions into an undeniably challenging music, proves the mentality that is behind their creative process. What is certainly obvious with “Hegaiamas” is that the sky is the limit for their creativity, and i really hope that this album finds the recognition it deserves in a global scale.