Orisonata is an American progressive symphonic metal project by composer and multi-instrumentalist Jason Lee Greenberg and his wife, pianist and singer Jennifer Grassman. On the seven songs of their self-titled debut record, the couple are occasionally supported by classical saxophonist Todd Oxford and jazz pianist Pamela York.
While the base of the band’s music reminds me of bands such as Elis, Xandria, and early Nightwish, the use of the jazz piano and saxophone is what makes this stand out. The vivid yet atmospheric opener “Journey To The Center Of The Earth” is maybe the best song on the album, and unites symphonic metal elements with jazzy tones. The joyous saxophone, accompanied by a galloping bass guitar and solid drums, creates an amazing rhythm section to carry the band. Acoustic and electric guitars, the piano talent, and strong female vocals add a more colorful and melodic note. The vocals have warmth and power, and while they don’t stand out for their uniqueness, they fit the music. With a length of almost nine minutes, the opening track needs several spins to grow, but shows off the original concept behind the band. The varied “Robin Hood” sounds quite similar, and is nearly as great as the powerful opener. These two songs are by far the best, in my opinion.
Almost all songs on this record have something slightly different to offer despite a similar base. “The Once And Future King” impresses with extensive power metal driven guitar riffs and solos that go on just a little bit too long. “Oath Breaker” has the same problem. It starts almost like a neoclassical shred tune before it gets back to a more symphonic touch. While the technical side of the track is almost flawless, the guitar driven parts don’t add much to the atmosphere. “The Great Baptism” convinces with an atmospherically gripping use of keyboards and more technical and progressive song writing where Greenberg shows off his incredible talent.
“Unholy Creation” has a slightly darker atmosphere and few beefier riffs, and is probably the hardest song on the record along with the opener, without sounding out of place. In my opinion, the band could push this dark atmosphere and rawer sound a little bit further in the future, because this contrast sounds very profound. The closer, “The Muses”, is a laid-back acoustic ballad with a few folk influences that concludes the record on an enchanting and romantic note. The track reminds me of the German band Faun or maybe even Blackmore’s Night. Usually I only like this kind of music from a few select artists such as Loreena McKennitt or Mike Oldfield, but as an exception to the Orisonata’s rule, it works quite well. In my opinion, it’s a nice idea to close the album on this more spiritual note.
In the end, Orisonata manages to create its own sound in a genre that has been standing still over the past few years. The band has a more progressive approach to the symphonic female-fronted metal genre and adds a few colorful folk and jazz sounds here and there. The only missing element is maybe a shorter and catchier track that would get this band some well-deserved airplay. Power, progressive, and symphonic metal fans won’t care anyway, because they will give this record the time it deserves to grow. I’m rather skeptical about projects carried by one or two multi-instrumentalists, only because the project runs the risk of sounding like a sophisticated playground for self-centered musicians who only want to show off their talent. Progressive rock and metal artist Bader Nana is one of the few positive exceptions, and Orisonata also manages to sound rather organic, and almost like a real band (which is a good sign). Go and support this promising project and spread its name.