«Screamnasium» is the fourth album from four-piece rock band O.R.k., featuring ex-Porcupine Tree bassist Colin Edwin, award-winning composer/vocalist Lorenzo Esposito Fornasari (LEF), Marta sui Tubi’s Carmelo Pipitone and King Crimson’s Pat Mastelotto. The high profile prog associations don’t end there – Grammy winning art director Adam Jones (of Tool) designed the album cover.
LEF is, quite frankly, one of the best rock vocalists in the world. His voice can float lightly towards the heavens like Jeff Buckley (as it does on the beginning of «Lonely Crowd»), but from those heights he can transition seamlessly into a powerful growl that is fired from the depths of hell, as strong as Chris Cornell singing «Jesus Christ Pose». He has also graduated in opera singing, but it’s not just his distinctive voice – his musical imagination is remarkable (if you don’t believe me, check out his solo project, «Hypersomniac»). That imagination, along with the dexterity of all the musicians, gives O.R.k. a fascinating spontaneity and unpredictability that few bands possess. It would be easy for a voice like LEF’s to dominate the record and put the other musicians in the shade, but it doesn’t. The record is full of intense, intricate arrangements, and you can clearly hear what each musician is doing. Pipitone’s guitar gymnastics really shine on «Unspoken Words», for example, as does the explosive rhythm section provided by Mastelotto and Edwin.
From the powerful opener «As I Leave», with its huge Soundgardenesque chorus to the slow-burning closing track, «Someone Waits», which features Jo Quail on cello, O.R.k. have created an expansive and emotive album full of light and shade, beauty and power. Dark and yet full of hope, it’s a complete and concise musical journey. The leading contender for my album of the year so far.
5/6 | Anne-Marie Forker
Release date: 21 October 2022