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Hegaiamas: A Song For Freedom
Released: 2017, Indie
I went to see Evergrey play in my city of Calgary back in May of 2017. It was a good show (I reviewed it on this site) and it was strong bill with three great opening acts, Need, Ascendia and Seven Kingdoms. The only band I had not heard before was Need, the progressive Power Metal from Athens, Greece. Naturally I bought the new album at the merchandise booth to support this band who had traveled halfway around the world.
Since this is our first review of a Need album some background is in order. Formed in 2003 the five-piece band has written and recorded four full-length studio albums and a live album that recorded their appearance at Atlanta’s Power-Prog Fest in 2014. The band has maintained it’s independent status and has released their 4th album HEGAIAMAS:A SONG FOR FREEDOM.
The digipak is nicely appointed with a booklet with lyrics and it folds out into a mini-poster of the front cover art, which seems kind of vague and mysterious to me. It is almost a mandatory to have good production if you are a Power-Prog band and everything is well balanced in the mix.
During the aforementioned gig I had a chance to chat with the singer about his band and he mentioned that he is the President of The Official Greek Savatage Fan-Club. This caught my interest immediately for two reasons. One, any fan of Savatage is a friend of mine and secondly, it was a safe assumption that there might be some Savatage influence in the song-writing and performance of the Greek Power-Prog band, which can only be a good thing! That influence is certainly there, not overtly, but just in the quality of the songs. Any number of the elite Power Prog bands Dream Theater, Fates Warning etc and realistic touchstones of the sound of Need. The band don’t overplay, if there is such a thing, the sense of song is retained, it is not just a showcase for hyper-talent.
The centerpiece of the album, despite being sequenced at the end of the track running order, is the title track ‘Hegaiamas’. This 22-minute monster is proceeded by a instrumental dialogue between a woman an older man, backed by a gentle piano accompaniment. It is kind of weird, but also very deep as they discuss metaphysical concepts and dreams. The epic is a tour de force with multiple moods and passages and simply top-notch playing. It shifts between heavy and soft, slow and fast, light and dark with ease. In fact all of the dynamic songs exhibit these characteristics. There are some nice hints of an exotic (to my ears anyway) Mediterranean sound scattered across some of the songs with a lovely female voice, more narration and several ambient passages that nicely offset the crunchy, heavy parts.
Discovering Need in 2017 was certainly a wonderful surprise and HEGAIASMAS is certainly one of the best Power-Prog albums I have heard this year.
Jon V. Vocals
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