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An overly long wait it was for fans of Orphanage, but finally Inside arrived. The reason for it's delay is probably to be found in a sudden change of direction for Orphanage, as at one point they were in an further stage of recording, and then suddenly the album got delayed again.
This change of direction is on the one hand quite large. Gone are the lyrics dealing with gloomy 'fantasy' worlds/dealings (except for 'Behold' with guest vocals by Sharon den Adel of Within Temptation fame, woo!). Also the synths are a lot less present, relegated to subtle background mood-setters. On the other hand the typical heavy guitars, background vocals, excellent drumming and alternation between grunts/clean vox, are all still present.
The main difference on this album is that the songs deal a lot more with dark side of humanity, dark emotions, and basically, life. It seems to have become a very personal album for Orphanage, dealing with problems they encountered in real life, and their feelings about those problems and various issues (lyrics like 'Get a grip' in 'Grip', or 'Deal with the Real', 'Drag You Down'). Now Orphanage has always had an interest in the darker side of humanity/life, see for example Chameleon on their debut, but instead of an element in the background, it now has been dragged to the fore, in a way that has in fact added to the value of this album.
Now when I first heard this album, as a huge fan of Orphanage, I was full of anticipation about it, expecting a 'By Time Alone' but only now with more atmosphere and oomph/punch, even more enticing lyrics, especially after the band's anouncement that this album was even darker than previous albums. And I was pretty dissapointed..
I almost didn't recognize Orphanage at first. The songs had a completely different aproach it seemed. For example Twisted Games started with a beat that's almost danceable. Not danceable in an Atari Teenage Riot way, or 'phat beatz man!!'-way, but it was just 'groovy'. The rythm of the songs overall seemed different.
And it took me a lot of listens, and a bit maturing myself, before I realised this album was indeed an improvement on their previous work. Having been a fan of fantasy-esque lyrics for a so long, and Orphanage especially, I didn't see the value of their new direction through my dissapointment. But the semi-directness of their lyrics, the alternation of slow and heavy passages, the depth of the lyrics, the immensely varied song-structures, they all lead to songs that went somewhere! Not eschewing a crescendo in their songs, there's a lot of build-up in each song, and damnit, this album is indeed darker (I hope I'm not overusing the work 'dark' now).
Overall, an album that is beyond merely solid, and into the 'recommended'-realm. I'm actually kinda surprised they haven't broken through internationally yet, seeing as Orphanage is consequent in their quality, only improving, and so much better than all those mediocre bands that have broken through over time. My guess to the reason for this would be that Orphanage isn't easily lumped into a category. It isn't 'Dutch gothic metal' like Within Temptation or early The Gathering (although Orphanage was one of the first in the scene), and Orphanage doesn't fall into the doom- or deathmetal categories either; they're aren't deathmetal by a longshot, but too up-tempo and perhaps even brutal for doom- and gothicmetal.
A shame, so here's my pointer to an excellent band.