Every genre has its tropes. Power metal’s unhealthy obsession with dragons and unicorns, for example. Thrashers shower but twice a year. Did you know that most black metal musicians are allergic to both colors and happiness? All true facts! Progressive metal is no exception. The genre has a long, rich history full of drugs, inflated egos and a nearly painful amount of wanking. While such clichés have given rise to a metric fuck-ton of terrible metal, a lot of good has come of them too. This brings us to Need. Before penning this review, I was aware of Greece’s growing purveyors of prog but I had never given them a go. Now after a great many spins of Hegaiamas: A Song for Freedom I have drawn two conclusions. Firstly, Need is incredibly definitive of the ‘classic’ progressive metal stereotype. Only in prog can a band reach up their ass, pull out a word like Hegaiamas, say it means freedom and then write a 60 minute concept album about it. Secondly, Hegaiamas is a very solid offering of quality progressive metal.

Hegaiamas begins with “Rememory,” a great opener that sounds like a Symphony X tinged Fates Warning. The song starts with a beautiful melody that gives way to a massive sounding chorus. Vocalist Jon V. has the perfect pair of pipes for Need‘s sound, and he actually reminds me quite a bit of Russel Allen, or possibly Ray Alder (Fates Warning, Redemption). His voice has a great timbre to it and isn’t overly high pitch, as I find is often the case with many progressive metal singers. The opener gives way to “Alltribe,” a much more technical song with a classic Dream Theater feel to it. By the time this second track comes to a close, it’s obvious that the musicians of Need are quite skilled. Ravaya handles the frets with all the finesse you’d expect from a high-caliber act, and keyboardist Anthony’s playing creates some of the most beautiful moments on the album.

All the skill in the world means precisely nothing when it’s not applied correctly, and Need‘s awareness of this fact is what elevates their album from good to great. Every riff in Hegaiamas is interesting and unique; every song paced and purposeful. Need are expert songwriters, and the way they’ve pieced Hegaiamas together makes it one of those albums you’ll want to hear from beginning to end. The mastering job on Hegaiamas is also top notch. Every member’s contribution can be heard loud and clear, and the strong rhythm section and lower-end is balanced beautifully with the more delicate sounds on the record.

Hegaiamas‘ finale deserves its own analysis as it will undoubtedly be point of discussion for many listeners. “Iota” marks the beginning of the end with a track that once again exemplifies prog-metal to a tee. Without batting an eye, Need tosses five minutes of straight up air-headed philosophical narration at the listener. At first I couldn’t help but gawk, but “Iota” actually ends up working in Need‘s favor. The characters are voiced well and backed by a beautiful piano score, and while the story being told is absolutely shameless in its cheesiness, it does contain a sense of self awareness and works to both break up the pace and set the tone for the true closer, “Hegaiamas.” This 22 minute epic brings together everything introduced thus far in what ends up being a cohesive listen. While a few sections lag near the middle, “Hegaiamas” contains some of the best material on the record and Need‘s closing statement on the topic of freedom is strong overall.

If you’re a fan of progressive metal and/or good music in general, you’re going to enjoy Hegaiamas. It’s not exactly a leap forward for the genre but boy has Need produced some killer music on this record. We’re only a few weeks into 2017 but I’ve enjoyed Hegaiamas more than a great many albums from the gong show that was 2016. While I still have no idea what a Hegaiamas is, A Sound for Freedom is a great start to the new year and if you have yet to check Need out, get on it. 

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Self Release
Websites: needband.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/needband
Releases Worldwide: January 17th, 2017

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  • VikingSchism

    Listening to the embedded track, and it’s pretty nice so far, going to have to listen to more, but it seems very promising. Why must this website give me so much to listen to (in addition to going and listening to older stuff, since I’m a fairly recent metal convert)

    • BernBern17

      I’m with you on this one. So much of my time is going towards listening to all the older metal I’ve missed out on, pretty much due to me not exactly being born at the time it was released. No excuses though, I suppose.

      • VikingSchism

        Only the other day did I get round to listening to Nightfall in Middle Earth by Blind Guardian, as well as listening to some stuff by Devin Townsend Project

        • Serjien

          I hope you enjoyed Nightfall in Middle Earth! That is one of my favorite albums. Such good memories, but also it reminds me I am getting old…

        • brutal_sushi

          This makes my bleak heart happy. Nightfall is spectacular… and I hope you dig DTP.

  • Vic279

    Greece is going strong with metal at least haha! Glad for that!!

  • FelixtheMetalcat

    Very fair review. Need is a terrific band that I got to know 2 years ago with their album Orvam- A Song for Home. They played ProgPowerUSA that year 2014 and really woke up many people who had not heard of them. They really do know how to write a great song, don’t waste alot of time with excessive instrumentals but really do jam up a storm. If you even are a fringe lover of prog I suggest trying them out because they are not your average prog band, they’re really a cut above.

    • Zephyrus

      How was Ovram? Still have to check it out myself.

      • FelixtheMetalcat

        It was my album of the year….obviously that is in the ears of the beholder, but I played it so much that it became damn near addictive. Maybe i got a bit too influenced by hanging out with them at PPUSA 2014 for hours on end, but I am still playing the album monthly 2+ yrs later…..

  • Meriyas

    Sounds like they nailed the prog stereotype checklist. I NEED to check this out…

    • brutal_sushi

      I can’t tell you how many times I finished the album and then just repeated it. That happened with Affinity last year. This album is ridiculously good.

  • Alex Skevo

    “Only in prog can a band reach up their ass, pull out a word like Hegaiamas, say it means freedom” very funny I had a chuckle but its actually a word in greek or a saying, like cheers when you raise your glass or is it salut etc. it literally means “our health”

    • Zephyrus

      Thanks, I thought it might have meant something in Greek! I couldn’t find a definition though, Google just kept bringing me back to the band/album.

      Need is officially larger than the Greek language.

      • Chris

        Hi guys.

        “Hegaiamas” is three words in one actually “he – gaia – mas” and it means “Our Earth”.

        Really cool you dig the album. It’s a masterpiece imho.

        • Alex Skevo

          Yep most like that one. When i saw it i was thinking of “stin hgeia mas” probably as i drink too much tsipouro!!!!!

      • AgonMcDuck

        I’ll chime in and add that Orvam (their previous album) is probably “mavro” (the Greek word for “black”) spelled backwards.

        I don’t know Greek, but one of my mentors used the username “mavropnevma” on a forum I like to frequent. Learned about this when I asked him where his username came from (it’s a phrase from a rembetika song).

        • Chris

          I confirm that. “Orvam” is mavro (which means black) spelled backwards.

          It’s part of the character of the band to play around with words. Combine them in one, spell them backwards and stuff like that. Just take a look at most of the song titles…

  • Wonderful find! A definite Queensryche influence as well, to my ears at least. The backing female vocals are great also.

  • ArtifeX

    Sounds really good. The vocalist sounds a bit like Tom Englund from Evergrey, but with his own personality, which is a good thing. The embedded track is way better than the whole of Evergrey’s last album.

    • GardensTale

      When he sings the “haunting me” bit at around 2:30 in the embed, that’s where he has the strongest Englund vibe, definitely a good observation.

  • Eli Valcik

    Music is not bad but it’s not my cup of Tea, I think I’ll pass.

  • EnslavedEld73

    The clean parts of the first track bothered me, but I hung on until the heavy parts kicked in and I’m glad I did. As I get older I run from cheese ever faster, but I ended up digging their sound and I might just buy this when it comes out. I agree with the reviewer about the vocals in a lower register working very well. Excellent musicians.

  • Huck N’ Roll

    Nice work, Zephyrus, especially your “reach up their ass” line, good toss-off. This is a really good album but the narration was a complete buzzkill. Let the music tell the story, dammit!

    • Zephyrus

      Thanks Huck. I really didn’t know what to think of that narrated track for a long while, but in the end I never found myself skipping it and actually found it gave the album some character, but I could easily be swayed the other way as well. It’s a strange choice they made for sure.

      • brutal_sushi

        That happened to me on the second play through. I really liked the narration track. It breaks the back end of the album up and nicely sets up the huge closing track.

  • Wilhelm

    Sounds a lot like the more recent Fates Warning albums, not bad!

  • FelixtheMetalcat

    Just heard the embedded track for the first time, great song. No wasted time, just quality music from beginning to end.

  • The world definitely needs more Needs.

  • AgonMcDuck

    Holy shit, how did I miss these guys even when they went to ProgPower and all?

    “Rememory” is nice, but “Tilikum” is REALLY stuck. Vocalist is very Tom Englund-esque as some people have said, with traces of Russell Allen and Warrel Dane. Hot damn. The songwriting is also on point. It’s not needlessly wanky, but it’s well-thought out and has some interesting scales.

    If the rest of the album is even nearly as good as these two tracks. and from the review, it seems so, I might have a new addition to my collection of favorite prog albums.

    I NEED this album. (See what I did there?)

    • AgonMcDuck

      Okay, I’ve heard the whole album. Glad to say it’s stellar as expected. “Tilikum” is still my favorite track but it’s not like the rest of the record is far behind. All of it is just absolutely jammin’. Also don’t think “I.O.T.A.” is bad but I guess that’s more a product of me listening to Orvam beforehand where they did pretty much the same thing. Spoken word tends to be awful if the voices are unconvincing but I thought this one was competent enough to actually work.

      Guess who’s going to have to plunge through this band’s back catalog and in all likelihood empty his wallet.

  • Serjien

    From what I have heard so far, this is very promising. I am looking forward to hear the whole album!

  • Peter

    Good review, and definitely digging the music. Looking forward to hearing the entire album soon!

  • brutal_sushi

    This is really really really fucking good.

  • Embridioum

    I found the album on Bandcamp yesterday, and now I see that you had already reviewed it. What’s strange is, I measured the DR score myself just now, and it’s a 7 on my Bandcamp MP3 VBR download. Granted, the meter didn’t include “Ι.Ο.Τ.Α.” for whatever reason, but still… All the other songs are DR7.

  • robpal

    This one gets my stamp of approval. Very nicely executed progressive metal with some crafty musicianship and good vocals. Songs are well-structured, memorable but not too simple and at the same there’s no wankery. Thumbs up!

  • Hey Zephyrus, I just got this and (as you said) it’s really good! Thanks for the heads up, along with the new Pain of Salvation they are the first killer prog metal releases of 2017.