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Orne - The Tree Of Life - 80%

ConorFynes, February 27th, 2012

There is certainly no rule saying that prog rock has to be cheery, but many of the modern prog bands I have come across pass me as being rather upbeat. Of course, it may simply be where I'm coming from as a listener, but there doesn't seem to be much room for bands like Beardfish and Sky Architect on a sombre, rainy day. The melancholic is often an aspect of prog music, but seldom does it become such a forefront of the sound as it is on Orne's 'The Tree Of Life'. These Finnish rockers have taken the classic sounds of prog rock and filtered it through a cynical, depressing tone. Of course, this approach could have resulted in a shaccrine and adolescent endeavour, but 'The Tree Of Life' is ultimately one of the most moving albums I have heard in the classic prog style this year.

Many reviewing this album before me have described this album as having ties with doom metal; as far a style from prog as ice cream is from FBI torture techniques. Even so, 'The Tree Of Life' is dominated by downtempo musical ideas; Orne never lets their music get too excited or energetic. This results in a dreary, introspective mood, the likes of which could be compared to Van Der Graaf Generator, a band whose influence shows clearly in Orne. Those expecting a vintage prog album in the vintage style will come out puzzled; while the band uses the sounds of classic acts (particularly Pink Floyd), the compositions skirt away from displays of technical virtuosity or anything of that matter. For that, Orne mange to find a sound that is very much their own.

As I mentioned, Pink Floyd is a major influence on the band's sound. There are plenty of soft explorations with the organs and guitars, and I get a natural, even pastoral sense of atmosphere from Orne's palette of sound. The voice of Sami Heinninen is low and brooding, and the lyrics are introspective and poetic to match. A possible gripe with the set-up that proggers may, and possibly will have with 'The Tree Of Life' is the fact that it is a fairly slow album. With that in mind, it can also come across as boring if a listener isn't in the mood for it. Regardless, Orne is a pleasant musical surprise on my end, and while certainly not for everyone, I can see myself returning to the powerful music of this band in the future.