After 10 years and three vocalist, Orion’s Reign are finally ready to release their second studio album. Why did it take so long, how was the recording process, and what is it about Orion’s Reign and Christmas? That was some of the things PowerMetal.no discussed with drummer Noel.
Finally, the second studio album is out! How does it feel?
Noel: First of all I want to thank you for the interview and the interest, we really appreciate it! Now, about the album; yes, it’s a big relief! Something that we have put our heart and soul into for such a long time. At the same time, you have the stress and the curiosity whether people will like it or not.
It’s been 10 years since your first album. I guess a lot has changed since then; there has been some line-up changes, and as musicians you have also propably changed and developed. What are the main differences between Orion’s Reign anno 2008 and 2018?
Noel: Yes, so much have changed in terms of line-up but the main core of the band, at least composing-wise, is still present. We have followed the same pattern in terms of composing as we did before, only now all of us have evolved musically. Not only do we have more experience, but the technology has also taken major steps. We have new and better tools for recording, communicting and delivering what we have in our minds, to the speakers. The final deliverable contains a little bit of everyone, still present in the band or not.
For us fans, 10 years is way too long to wait, haha! Why did it take so long?
Noel: It took 10 years, but during that period we were active. We had several releases through the years, but not something that could be released as a whole. In the end of the day it is all about music and expressing creativity. Now, if you look to the full lenght, we wanted to deliver the best we could do to the fans, in terms of composition, recording, mixing etc. The original plan was to release it earlier, but we had to change the main singer 3 times, which was like restarting the process. Something that was strong and catchy in one case, was not in the other, so we had to adjust. And adjusting sometimes mean changing 60% of the song. At least this has given us so many ideas and material for the future.
When did you start working on the second album, Scores Of War? Is it only new material, or does it also contains song written during the last 10 years?
Noel: The second album started around 2011-2012, so it was actually 6 years in the making. It contains new songs and one re-recorded song from the previous album. I am talking about «Last Stand». It was a bonus track, the last we recorded, and we felt like it was produced kind of in a hurry. This time, we have a more solid sound in it, bigger orchestras and choirs, and two guest appearances. In total, we want to believe that all the songs have been handled in order to give the audience a very diversified content, with the epic movie score element present in all of the songs.
The album was recorded in Sweden by the band, and With Jens Bergen and Linus Corneliusson. How was that, and what can you tell me about the Collaboration with Jens and Linus?
Noel: We are very satisfied! If we were to do it all over again, we would go to Fascination Street Studios once more. The staff was very helpful and truly willing to understand our approach and the expression we wanted to communicate. We tried two other big studios before ending up in Sweden, but it was really difficult to produce something so solid, since each song had about 100 different tracks (voice-instruments) that needed mixing. It is not simple at all to find the production team that will understand your music and make your sound. Both Jens and Linus did an amazing job!
And talking about the sound: there are a lot of choirs, orchestra and symphonic parts. Is that recorded with a full orchestra and choir?
Noel: All of the vocals are recorded track by track. Nothing is automated, nothing is generic. This is on of the reasons it took us so long to produce the album. Orchestras on the other hand are all played/recorded by Kirk [keys and orchestra arrangements]. Some with VSTs, other physically.
Let’s continue with the new album: I’m totally blown away! What are your own thoughts about it? I guess you are satisfied?
Noel: With everything you create, if you listen to it again, you’ll always find something to change. So I would say 99% satisfied. The most difficult phase is to find out which of the sections in the song that don’t add anything, and cut them off. But I’m glad you like it, that means we have succeeded on a certain level.
Review: Orion’s Reign – Scores Of War
For me the best track is «The Gravewalker». I’m a bit disappointed that it’s not one of the singles, haha! But that also shows the high quality of the album, when my favorite isn’t among the singles. Do you agree?
Noel: Totally!! This is my favorite track too. We wouldn’t want to give everything away just from the singles. In the same manner «Elder Blood» is very catchy and attracts your attention with the huge screaming part at the beginning. We wanted to save all that for the album and not reveale everything at once. It’s like a movie, that once you have seen the trailer you know the whole plot.
And with vocalist Dan you must have hit the jackpot? Where did you find him?
Noel: Dan is a very talented person. We usually compose music and then we add lyrics on top, but Dan had a lot to contribute with. We are in general trying to find the most suitable person to express the emotions in the songs and to deliver the songs as it was initially envisioned. In the previous album Yiannis was that person, in this one Dan has done everything we hoped for.
How would you describe the new album compared to the first one? What has changed?
Noel: As I said, the composing process was the same. What has changed is that we are more experienced now, and that we have better tools. So, there was things we wanted to do in the previous album but couldn’t, and this time we found the way and the expertise to do it. Budget also matters (unfortunately), but in the end of the day it is always about creating music that is both metal and cinematic at the same time. This time we want to believe we offer our audience a full symphonic experience profoundly influenced by epic movie scores, with a complete orchestra, operatic refrains, bombastic rhythms and massive choirs.
I guess it’s not a shock if I tell you that I can hear the influence from Rhapsody Of Fire. But I still think you have managed to find your own sound. What are your own thoughts on that: what are your main sources of inspiration and how do you use them to create your own sound?
Noel: Yes, Rhapsody is the connecting link between all the members, that actually have quite different musical taste. You see; one person in the band is keener on speed metal, another prefer rock, and another one is more into classical music. Personally, I like more digital sounds and I am also really influenced by the music wave of Gothenburg. However, bands like Rhapsody, Iron Maiden, Manowar and Nightwish, are bands that are common ground for all of us.
And now what? Do you think that Orion’s Reign is where it belongs? The line-up is completed, you have a new record company, and the second album is on it’s way. Are you already looking forward?
Noel: Yes, I wan’t say that we have started composing for the next album, but we are already working on other versions of the same songs or other tracks that will be released complimentary to the album. The main thing at the moment is to promote this release, deliver to existing fans what they have been waiting for, and spread our music to new fans.
Are you ready to hit the road after the album is released? Will there be a tour?
Noel: Nothing is booked at the moment, but, well, we hope so! First and foremost though, we are focusing on promoting the album.
And I must ask: what is it about Orion’s Reign and Christmas? Personally I love the holidays and Christmas songs. I guess you do too?
Noel: I can’t say I didn’t see that coming. All that started for fun and became sort of a tradition. A tradition that we all look forward to each year. We usually start to Experiment with different Christmas songs in September/October each year to find a song that might sound good, and it takes about a month or so to complete it. Who knows, we might have another one in the making for this year. We will see, haha!
Orion’ Reign new album, Scores Of War, will be out October 19th on Pride & Joy Music.