Nine years after his latest “Tranz-Fused” solo album, Michael Harris (DARKOLOGY, THOUGHT CHAMBER, ARCH RIVAL, ex-COUNTERPOINT, ex-SURGEON, ex-ZANISTER, THE MICHAEL HARRIS TRANZ-FUSION, ex-LEATHER, ex-VITALIJ KUPRIJ), returns with his new “Orchestrate II: Rage & Restraint” release. Well, well, well… What we got here? A second “Orchestrate” release? You are setting a bit bet here Mr. Harris, are you going to win it?
Those familiar with the solo albums of this excellent guitarist, know that the first “Orchestrate” album was his actual creative peak. This was an excellent record, its main features were, of course, the classical parts and the amazing guitar themes but they were presented on a very special way as Harris have managed to combine lots of prog and fusion parts into the most of the compositions of the album. So the result was a HUGE combination of classical music forms, neoclassical complete guitar leads/shredding parts under a serious Prog / Fusion development that made this release a classic for its genre. Let’s see if Mr. Harris has followed the same direction on the second part of his “Orchestrate” saga…
“Orchestrate II: Rage & Restraint” is an excellent album. Harris composes uses classical forms presenting some amazing pieces of music. He creates an ultra inspired musical basis to expand his amazing neoclassical guitar parts. The listener can discover many baroque elements on the main compositions, while the guitar parts are actually completed musical pieces arranged to fit on the overall classical inspired work that Harris present in here, as parts of a complete orchestral arrangement. So yes the guitar becomes an instrument inside the orchestra but fortunately, there is enough room left for shredding as well. But who needs simple shredding without actual good compositions? Yes, this album contains some amazing pieces of music.
Harris has decided to follow a pure classical inspired direction on this album. So if you are still searching for the Progressive touches and those Fusion adventurous parts of the previous “Orchestration” you will be somehow disappointed. I think that his goal was to present this release as a complete classical work while on the previous “Orchestration” release he was mostly presenting an album that combined many of his musical influences. I would not be surprised if I notice him presenting this actual “Orchestrate II: Rage & Restraint” album, live with a full orchestra, presented as a complete work on stage.
The big deal is that Harris is back. And he delivers some amazing pieces of music. I really enjoyed this album and I consider it to be among his best solo releases.
Closing this text I would actually make a wish: To see Harris on a real band again, delivering some of his composing goodness, combining those classical influences, with even more Prog touches under a band moniker featuring an amazing singer. No, it is not that I don’t like his solo stuff – I actually spent countless days listening only to that particular album on repeat -, but I think that he is a composing genius and that he should give some more excellent music to the Metal world as well!