Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Orphan Project - Spooning Out The Sea
Musical Style: Progressive Hard Rock Produced By: Tony Correlli
Record Label: NePlusUltra Music Country Of Origin: USA
Year Released: 2009 Artist Website: Orphan Project
Tracks: 10 Rating: 90%
Running Time: 47:17

Orphan Project - Spooning Out The Sea

Orphan Project got its start in 2001 when vocalist Shane Lankford approached guitarist John Wenger (Mars Hill) about the idea of creating a concept album based around the themes of physical and spiritual adoption.  The end result was Orphan Found, the 2003 full length debut of Orphan Project in which the group melded elements of hard rock and progressive rock while inspired by Lankford’s childhood memories of growing up in a family of adoptive parents.  Proceeding to go on hiatus the next four years, a period that found Lankford participating on projects with Fall Of Echoes (Red Tree from 2006) and Visual Cliff (Into The After from 2007), Orphan Project regrouped in 2008 and released a four song EP entitled Orphan Project II.  With the momentum of the EP behind it, Orphan Project returned to the studio and in 2009 completed work on Spooning Out The Sea, its second full length album and first on NePlusUltra Music.

Spooning Out The Sea, similar to its predecessor Orphan Found, combines the best aspects of hard rock, metal and progressive rock.  You will find some leanings towards melodic rock and adult contemporary as well.  If anything, the album proves the more polished, well rounded and consistent work: Production values are done to perfection, musicianship and vocals remain in top form while songwriting brings just the right amount of catchy hooks, melody and the guitar driven.

Speaking of the guitar driven, what immediately impressed me about Spooning Out The Sea is its heaviness; in other words, to say that Orphan Project is here to “rock out” would be an understatement.  Just check out the metal-laced riffs adorning “Angels Desire” (a lush hard rocker), “To Me” (nice use of organ on this one) and “Head On Your Platter” (albums heaviest piece) to understand my point.  The symphonic “My Goodness” combines elements of hard rock and the progressive while Orphan Project showcases the more progressive side to its songwriting skills on “Reach”, “Fallen”, “The Battle Rages On” and “Spooning Out The Sea”, all prime compositions characterized by their variances in tempo and creative time changes.  A mellower aspect to the band can be found in two very well done ballads in “Empty Me” and “One Dark Moment (Providence)”. 

At this point it must be noted that Spooning Out The Sea includes three of the four songs appearing on Orphan Project II: “Angel’s Desire”, “My Goodness” and “Empty Me”.  The fourth, an awesome, jazzed-up, grooved-out and hard rocking cover of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall Pt. 2”, makes OP2 an essential purchase.

Vocalist Shane Lankford returns with his rich and warm tinctured vocal style.  Passionate and distinctive in delivery, Lankford proves perfectly suited for the music at hand, complementing the hard rockers (he adds a bit of an edge to his delivery on “Head On Your Platter”) but stretching to add an element of emotion to progressive based pieces “Reach” and “Spooning Out The Sea”.

Joining Lankford on rhythm and lead guitar is Shane McBride.  McBride, of course, helps lend to the heavier aspect to the bands sound.  He adorns “To Me”, “Head On Your Platter” and “Fallen” with his abundant riffs and melodies while his skillful work as a soloist stands out best on “Reach” (bluesy feel to his playing) and “To Me” (spicy lead work throughout the entire song).

“Reach” moves its first minute and a half to a grand piano instrumental based opening.  Abruptly transitioning to a pumping bass line upon reaching its first verse, the song gradually builds initiative until breaking out for a sweeping chorus in which the rhythm guitar establishes itself fixed and firm.  “Reach” returns to its instrumental ways for a lengthy passage in which a skillfully done guitar solo holds sway.  A relevant question is asked here:

I have tried
Just to reason and then question why
I’m right here, you’re right there
And you’re so secure now
I don’t know that
I can’t fight anymore and that’s that
Every night, everyday
Where’s my Savior now?

“Angels Desire” heads in the more straightforward hard rocking direction.  With a brazen rhythm guitar leading the way, the song muscles through its first verse only to decelerate for a more tranquil passage in which keyboards hold sway.  The rollicking chorus that ensues allows Orphan Project to make a statement of faith:

You bring me shelter
You refine
All that I am
Unchain and free
This burdened soul
And (I’ll) fly where angels desire

More angst laden lead guitar tops things off.

“Fallen” starts to a hard charging guitar riff that brings to mind Kansas’ “Fight Fire With Fire” (off Drastic Measures).  As the song moves forward, it maneuvers through piano driven passages, sedate verse portions and a poignantly charged chorus perfectly suited for Lankford’s warm textured voice.  A return to the guitar riff in question and an interlude in which “hallelujah” is repeated in a worshipful manner adds to the majestic scene.  “Fallen” is a song of God’s faithfulness:

He has carried me
When I’ve fallen
And I know I’ve never landed on my feet
He has carried me
When I’ve fallen
And I know I’m not alone

Here on the edge of my ground
Is unsound
Crumbling down beneath my feet
Now here He comes
Salvation, Foundation
He’s the Rock that I cling to

A Hammond organ touches up hard rocker “To Me”.  The song plows ahead with Shane McBride’s spicy lead guitar adding to the swirling backdrop, flowing its distance in up-tempo fashion as a resounding low end joins itself with quite the unrelenting impetus.  The end result is the albums best – and most exciting – track.  “To Me” maintains the bands penchant for making faith based statements:

Voices come, voiced go
Only one will stand you see
The voice of God will rule
For eternity

He calls Your name
The only Living God
Salvation is real
To me

“One Dark Moment (Providence)” has classic ballad written all over it.  A joining of piano, acoustic guitar and classical instrumentation upholds the song its first minute and a half.  Abruptly picking up in pace as the rhythm guitar steps forward, “One Dark Moment” moves the rest of its way at the more decisive tempo in breaking out for periodic hard rocking passages while giving rise to quite the notable melody.  Lyrically, it does not get much better than this:

“It will be alright”
You whisper through the storm
Your body reaches out
More than I could reach
Giving endlessly
Signs of Your unending love for me
You give what I need
So abundantly
Your providence

“My Goodness” takes a symphonic based hard rock approach.  The song muscles through its verses as forward – but perfectly complementary – keyboards play a leading role.  Gradually decelerating, “My Goodness” slows to a near standstill for a dark and swarthy chorus standing in contrast to the decisive scene.  The lyrical themes presented revolve how there is “no goodness” apart from Christ:

All that I’ve done and all my goodness
All that I’ve made is burning away
My righteousness is filthy rags now
And my sacrifice despised as Cain’s

I try to, I’d die to start again
Remake this, and change this bitter end

The albums heaviest piece?  How about “Head On Your Platter”.  This one features a raucous guitar riff – full, in your face and catchy as they get – that plays a dominant role during its verses.  As the song reaches its placid chorus, the rhythm guitar moves to a reduced role in the mix- if only just slightly.  Irregardless, the effect works with “Head On Your Platter” coming across as a three minute explosion of energy and verve.  The focus here is on putting an end to our old nature:

Move before me
Your gift is all that matters
Take all I am
My head upon Your platter

Deserving all this pain
My old life is flowing out
My soul is awakening
I’m finally alive

The semi ballad “Empty Me” proves a moody but powerful piece.  What stands out about the song is the Kansas-like piano that plays a leading role during its verses (I swear I can hear Kerry Livgren in the background).  As “Empty Me” gains initiative, it transitions to a moving chorus that finds Orphan Project offering an encouraging and hope based message:

Bear all this weight
So I can run again
Take all these scars
So I can heal
Try me to see
Who You really are
Give me yourself
Fully empty me

The album ends in progressive mode with “The Battle Rages On” and “Spooning Out The Sea”.

I find “The Battle Rage On” to be a positive and uplifting piece.  Up-tempo in capacity but symphonic in delivery, the song pulsates through its verses in purposeful fashion, not letting up in tempo until obtaining an energized chorus backed by a vestige of accentuating grand piano.  Impetus briefly tapers for a passage in which a choir of child like voices repeats the phrase “Onward Christian soldiers marching off to war…”.  Again, “The Battle Rages On” presents with an inspiration message:

In that one dark moment
His light breaks through
Shining brightly through
My blackened mind
In the next small moment
Gazing in the Son’s eyes
All of my wants
Start to fade away
I rest in all You give

The instrumental opening to the albums creative title track reflects a jazz like feel.  The laid back setting is maintained as “Spooning Out The Sea” maneuvers its first two verses and a majestic chorus standing out with its stately and imposing grandeur. As the song reaches its three minute mark, a decisive lead guitar briefly steps forward only to give way to the edgy rhythm guitar that carries things to their close.  This one reflects a heart crying out to God:

And they’re just too large
Too comprehend
Oh what depth!
His Word is in your hands
Come back to shore now
You’re drowning while your spooning out the sea
Oh, it never ends
He’s searching in Your soul
His Spirit tells you
The Truth is in Him
Reaching out beyond you, oh
Oh, what depth!

Review by Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: “Reach” (5:54), “Angels Desire” (4:16), “Fallen” (4:50), “To Me” (4:13), “One Dark Moment (Providence” (5:38), “My Goodness” (4:24), “Head On Your Platter” (3:03), “Empty Me” (5:00), “The Battle Rages On” (4:37), “Spooning Out The Sea” (5:22)

Shane Lankford – Lead Vocals
Shane McBride – Guitars
John Neiswinger – Keyboards
Bill Yost – Bass & Guitars
Tim Kehring – Drums

Guest Musicians
Tony Correlli – Loops, Programming & Synthesizers
Scott Spivey & Rob Tahan - Guitars


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