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Reaching for Heaven and Then Falling Short - 80%

Evil_Carrot, June 7th, 2010

Order of Nine is a band I first came into contact with when they opened for Sonata Arctica at a shitty little ex-skating rink of an “arena.” I remembered thinking the performance was great but they seemed like a slightly odd choice for an opening band, since the brand of power metal they play seems a lot heavier than Sonata Arctia’s. Anyways, what was supposed to be a short set was extended to about an hour and a half because apparently two other opening bands pulled out last minute. Someone happened to mention Order of Nine was local, from about an hour away from where I lived. My friend and I were impressed enough by them to try to get a CD by them, buy they had sold out. He ended up with a necklace, and I ended up with a shirt. We later got some CDs online.

So, on to my review for the first album I listened to, their third full length as Order of Nine (after the name change from Templar), A Means to Know End.

The first thing I noticed about the CD is the way the guitar and drums sound. There’s a lot of crunch to the guitar, and the drums somehow feel not natural. I don’t know exactly how to describe it. When I listen to the production quality on a CD or in my computer it just doesn’t sound right. But if I try to listen through headphones it somehow feels even worse. So I have to say I’m not a fan of the production quality.

Single Shot is a great way to start off the album. It’s a powerful track with some good fast aggressive riffs, and you get a feel for what Michael DeGrena can do with his voice. Other reviewers have made comparisons to Geoff Tate’s voice, which is a comparison I made myself at the show. He seems to have a similar range; however his voice is VERY raspy. I can’t honestly say I’ve heard vocals that sound both so raspy and yet can hit notes like this before.

Single Shot is followed up by the title track, which begins as a slow, clean intro track before exploding into a good power metal riff. The drums still don’t sound right to me, but the guitar’s distortion seems to have been toned down. This is followed by Devotee, which after a short spoken part and the sound of an ocean, goes into another clean intro. There’s also an acoustic guitar which seems to do a short almost Flamenco-like guitar solo, before we get to hear the baritone part of DeGrena’s voice. The song has a powerful distorted chorus, and then goes back to the clean riff for the verses.

Devotee ends up being the longest song on the album, still only clocking in at less than 5 and a half minutes, but I feel keeping their songs short works in their favor. Devotee seems like the kind of song that if any longer, would lose your interest, and yet many bands tend to try to make songs like this long and epic.

In the Know has a drum and power chord like intro before exploding into another somewhat fast paced track, I enjoy this track enough, but it’s not exactly a stand out. An Offered Hand is another interesting track with some Middle Eastern sounding stuff during the chorus, which I must admit, is always a sound I enjoy hearing in metal, but I wish it had been done on a guitar and not a Keyboard. Also if there is keyboard on any previous track, it’s not really noticeable. This is the first time it stands out.

Ghost of Memories is another track beginning with a clean intro, with some singing deep in the mix, before going into a song that’s a little slower than mid-paced. The main riff is a kind-of start-stop chug, with the clean guitar over it and this song probably ends up being one of my favorites. It has a good atmosphere in my opinion. Gods at War and Ninth Knight make up the low point of the CD for me. While solid songs that don’t make me feel the need to skip them, they just don’t capture my attention like the rest of the album. Show No Remorse brings the quality back up some, and then comes the album’s closer, fittingly titled (I suppose) Last Dance. This whole track is based off of one acoustic riff, and Michael DeGrena’s deep haunting vocals. I actually think it’s a good way to end the album.

A Means to Know End is a solid metal album, albeit with some questionable production in my opinion. You may have noticed I didn’t single out any of the solos. While all decent, none of them are mind blowing, nor are there any lame ones. In a way this describes the whole album. It’s a solid effort. No songs truly blow my mind, but there aren’t any that suck. If you’re a fan of U.S. power metal, it’s worth checking out. Just don’t expect too much. It’s just decent, fun power metal.

Enjoyable US power metal! - 78%

Popa_Iuda, January 26th, 2009

Hailing from Pennsylvania, Order Of Nine is one of the "recent" bands like Cage orTwisted Tower that are nodding to the good old times of the '80s when power metal ruled the world.

Before being known as the aforemetioned name, they we're called Templar.Their newest album ,A Means To Know End, released on 1st of April, is a breath of fresh US power metal in the great classic tradition of Queensrÿche's The Warning, meanwhile having that pounding sound of bands like the mighty Omen or traces of Manilla Road.
Vocalist Michael DeGrena may seem awful to some ears, but I think he has a great timbre, especially for today's vocalists in this genre. He's definitely influenced by Geoff Tate in some ways, sounding more like a husky one, and on some softer parts he shifts into a Mark Shelton-like mutter. The slow and calm parts of the songs really show his baritonal qualities as it can be heard also when he sings in mid-range.

Most of the songs start slowly with an acoustic followed by rhythmed parts and mesmerizing or "explosive" solos.
Songs like Ninth Knight (unusual rhythm), Devotee, Single Shot, An Offered Hand or A Means To Know End(what a track!!, great chorus) testify that this band knows what is doing.

Recommended to heavy and power metal fans and also to prog/power metal listeners.

Ok US power metal. - 67%

Nhorf, November 29th, 2008

Order of Nine were formed seven years ago and they've already released three albums, A Means to Know End being their third and latest one. They carry a distinctive US power metal influence, bands like Queensrÿche and Iced Earth are certainly great sources of inspiration for this act. Their music is very riff-driven, the guitar playing being one of the most essential elements of the album. The tunes are generally quite midpaced, but there are at least one thrashy song to be found here, which is the opener, “Single Shot”: it contains some very well crafted riffs and powerful and fast drumming.

The vocals are quite good too, the singer reminds me a bit of Geoff Tate, even though his range isn't as impressive. As for the songs, “Single Shot” is an obvious highlight, together with the title track, which carries a memorable chorus. The other tunes are quite decent, and there are no masterpieces, nor stinkers, to be found on A Means to Know End. “In the Know” is also worth mentioning, as it contains a main riff directly ripped off of Rammstein's “Sehnsucht” (just listen to both tracks, it's quite obvious), but I don't blame them, it is indeed a very good riff. There are also a set of ballads on the record, all of them pretty similar to many of the Iced Earth ballads, especially the ones released on their Something Wicked This Way Comes record. Yeah, they aren't that good, but they are certainly not skip worthy. “Ghost of Memorie” possibly is the best calm track of the bunch, containing some nice melancholic guitar lines.

So, an OK, albeit unoriginal, US power metal album. Certainly not one of the best albums of the year, but it's certainly not among the worst ones too.

Best Moments of the CD:
-the beginning of “Single Shot”.