Need – Norchestrion: A Song for the End Review

Need’s previous record Hegaiamas: A Song for Freedom was one of my favorites of 2017. Apparently I’m not alone, as I had to fight Huck off to review this one.1 As the album titles imply, Greece’s Need play pretty prototypical pretentious prog, in the vein of Mountain-era Haken and bits of Symphony X. As the tussle over reviewing it implies, they’re also really good at it, despite the clear irony of a progressive band that doesn’t really push the boundaries of the genre. Norchestrion: A Song for the End is no exception on either count.

All of the expected elements of Need’s spin on the prog metal sound are present and correct here. The song structures are complex, full of varying moods and tempos. The transitions within and between songs are consistently deft, nailing the difference between good progressive music and a grab-bag of snippets. The songs are driven by the excellent lyrical guitar riffs. While synths are present, Need reach for piano ornamentation (“Beckethead”) before synth noodling (“Bloodlux”). This is one of my favorite elements of their sound. Norchestrion represents a bit of a shift from its predecessor, though. Some of the soaring feel and female vocals from Freedom are replaced with doomier riffs (“Bloodlux”) and harsh vocals (“Norchestrion”). This is balanced by some incredibly catchy writing, both for the vocals (“Circadian”) and the guitars (“Norchestrion”).

The lyrics are a little awkward at times, particularly the repeated refrain of “I’ve become so dark and sinister” on “Nemmortal.” This is almost impossible to take seriously, which is a shame as it’s the single catchiest bit of the entire album. Worse, however: the apparently obligatory spoken word track. Hegaiamas featured one which, for all its wanky pseudo-philosophizing about life and the universe (and everything?), at least had some gorgeous piano in the background and voices that sounded interesting. The result was somehow accidentally charming. It also served as an intro to the 20-minute finale. Here, there’s a rather more grounded discussion about whether we’re witnessing the slow decline of society.2 Unfortunately, it’s all just so awkwardly written and delivered. One voice returns from the last album and tackles the writing heroically, but the other is stilted and generally painful to listen to. It’s right in the middle of the record, breaking up the pacing. It doesn’t even have the pretty piano saving grace from last time.

Every member of Need deserves credit. There’s the obvious talents of George Ravaya (guitars) and Anthony Hadjee (keyboards). Jon Voyager on vocals has a rich and textured voice, and he nails a number of styles and timbres. There’s interesting drum (“Avia”) and tuned percussion (“Ananke”) work by Stelios Paschalis and some great basslines by Viktor Kouloubis (“Circadian”, “Avia”). The production is also excellent. All these performances are clearly audible and sound great, despite the varied and shifting range of instruments and volumes. Spoken word track aside there’s no real weak points. It’s a long record, but never drags.

Norchestrion isn’t a revolution for the prog metal genre, and I do wish they’d ease off the spoken word stumbles. But Need are great songwriters and musicians, and Norchestrion is exactly the high-quality progressive album we’ve come to expect from them. It’s catchy, carefully constructed, varied in sound but consistently impactful. Norchestrion changes enough from the last record to stay interesting. It keeps all the things that make Need one of today’s best prog bands.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Ikaros Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: January 12th, 2021

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Rumor has it the heretically inclined may be able to read Huck‘s take elsewhere, but obviously I cannot endorse any such having of other blogs.
  2. Gee, I wonder what about writing an album in 2020 could have prompted that?
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