When it comes to so called “female fronted metal bands” or gothic rock/metal I’m definitely not the biggest of fans. In my opinion the focus is too much on fashion and good looks instead of delivering quality music. Before the whole genre became fashionable and it was still called doom/death, there were a couple of bands laying the foundation, including Celestial Season, The Gathering, Within Temptation and Orphanage. From those bands only Within Temptation reaped the rewards after drastically changing their style. The focus in this article is on Orphanage, one of the more original and certainly the most groovy of the pack. Let’s have a closer look at the band’s final album, entitled Driven.
Driven shows a band on fire, especially after the somewhat disappointing Inside. Their previous record suffered from a muddy production and a couple of weaker songs, but that has been rectified on Driven. The overall quality of the songs has improved and there is a better balance between the trademark Orphanage ingredients such as the diverse vocal styles, their patented groove and the atmospheric keyboard parts. Production wise Driven is a quantum leap forward compared to its predecessor.
The familiar grunts by George Oosthoek, the tasteful Gregorian styled choir singing by Guus Eikens & Remco Spek and the female vocals by Rosan van der Aa are used to great effect in songs like The Sign, Black Magic Mirror, Cold and In Slavery. The aforementioned Rosan van der Aa isn’t the genre’s most versatile female vocalist, but within her limitations she does add a lot of texture and atmosphere to the overall Orphanage sound.
Another nice aspect of Driven is the diversity between the individual songs. Infinity, Prophecies Of Fame, Dead Ground and My Master’s Master are leaning towards death metal, while The Sign, Beyond The Fall, Truth And Lies and the title track are more melodic in nature with the vocals and keyboards in a prominent role. Black Magic Mirror, Back Gate and Addiction show a more experimental side of Orphanage.
Sadly Driven turned out to be the band’s final effort. It’s still a great record in terms of diversity, atmosphere, great songs and a great production. The experimentation going on gives Driven even a somewhat proggy character. I would love to see Orphanage reunite again and deliver some more of their patented “’innovative Gregorian Celtic groovy melodic doom death metal”!
written by Raymond Westland