"Great!" "Beautiful, epic, magnificent!" "An all-out grand rock opera!" "A work of genius!" "The beautiful ballads bring tears to my eyes." "Astoundingly rich in strong melodies and exquisite musicianship." "Very powerful." "Highly imaginative and entertaining!" "Cool ... cool ... cool ... Bonnie Parker is awesome!" "This is great!!" "Phil Baker's is one of the best rock voices I've ever heard."
Did you ever wonder what really happened behind the scenes of Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings? If you did, this powerful yet gently irreverent fantasy prog-rock opera will tickle your intellect as well as your music bone.
You have never experienced a rock opera like Orkid before. It is not one of those run-of-the-mill musicals with occasional distorted guitars that call themselves rock operas these days. It is a full musical assault on your ears and an unrelenting frontal attack on your mind. It is an opera, a dramatic story told by singing, embedded in heavy progressive rock.
Act 1. Orkid is the queen and creator of her all-female Orkid people, the most beautiful, intelligent, and courageous beings on Earth. Rumor spreads that she is going to have a daughter. But this is prohibited by the rule of old. Immortals are not allowed to have offspring. Orkid is reminded of this by Philotheos, her high priest, and Thiamer the wizard and Trahaldur the bard, her ancient friends. Plans are changed and the people are told that Elves, a lascivious all-male folk, have slain the daughter. A thousand-year war against Elves and their allies ensues. The war ends eventually in total victory, but Philotheos the high priest would like to continue fighting. Despite the priest's doubts, a funeral is held for the lost daughter. Orkid, exhausted, retires to a sleep of oblivion.
Act 2. Insisting voices drift into Orkid's sleep. They whisper that the ring has been found. Thiamer and Trahaldur have woken her up, and show her, through a seeing stone, a vision of her people in distress. A plan is forged to liberate the Orkid people in the black country, and Orkid begins a long and arduous journey to accomplish this. Her people's willpower is so strong that it seems, for a while, that she cannot complete the mission. But Philotheos, unaware of who she is, cannot, seeing her weak and wounded, wantonly kill her. Orkid regains her strength, and subdues, in the final battle, Philotheos and the rest of her people by the power of song. Matters settled, Orkid and Philotheos leave this world, and a merciful darkness falls upon the scene.
1. All in the Theme
2. Daughter to Our Queen
3. The One Rule
4. The Mirror Is Broken
5. 1000 years
6. After Battle Calm
7. Ceremony of Death
8. Dreamless Night
9. Give Me a Break
10. Behold Your People
12. Through the Black Country
14. Final Push
16. Here Comes the Dark
Music and lyrics by Matti Häyry except in 1, 9, 11, 16 Matti Häyry and Tuija Takala, and in 7 Lee Kerslake, Matti Häyry, and Tuija Takala.
If you are a one-song-at-a-time person, some numbers stand out for you. For ballads, listen to The Mirror is Broken, Dreamless Night, and Identities (with Bonnie Parker in lead vocals). For joy, anguish, and power, go for Daughter to Our Queen and After Battle Calm (with Phil Baker in lead vocals). If you want quick and quirky, The One Rule, Give Me a Break, and Presence are your choices. If you want to enjoy Lee Kerslake’s songwriting and drumming, Ceremony of Death offers you an opportunity. Going further to Uriah Heep country, check out the wailing guitar on Tuija Takala’s Covenant, written originally as a tribute to Lee Kerslake and Ken Hensley. On a different note, Through the Black Country takes you, in less than five minutes, through the ring-searching journey that took Tolkien two hundred pages to describe (the part that you always skimmed past as quickly as you could). And if you like grand stories, then the metal-spirited All in the Theme and Here Comes the Dark (two parts of the same song) and the prog-oriented 1000 Years and Final Push (including some of the same themes) are your thing.
If, on the other hand, you are a rare survivor of the breed who can still listen to music uninterruptedly for more than five minutes, then do just that. The live performance has an intermission in the middle, and it is an idea to simulate that. So sit down, push “play”, and let the first act – the first eight songs – take you to another place. It is an ancient place of elves and orcs, battle and reconciliation. Why does it all seem so familiar? Then take a break at the intermission, have a cup of tea or a glass of wine, and let the music and the story sink in. What will happen next, you wonder. Then resume and let the second act – the remaining eight songs – embrace you. The music will carry you through vision, mission, and resignation. Now you know what happened. Or do you? Or was it all a lie? Who spoke the truth? Why did they do what they did? And with that pleasant confusion, we welcome you to the world of the Visitors from Bellatrix!
The opera is performed by Visitors from Bellatrix.
On the album they are:
Bonnie Parker - Orkid
Phil Baker - Philotheos, Guitar
Harri Väyrynen - Thiamer
Denny Colt - Trahaldur
Johanna Ahola-Launonen - People, Herald
Mikaela Mansikkala - People
Tuija Takala - People
Jan Rechberger - Drums
Lasse Väyrynen - Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Matti Häyry - People, Keyboards
Lee Kerslake features in Ceremony of Death - Drums, Keyboards, Vocal
Corky Laing features in Dreamless Night and Identities - Drums
What else is there to say? Well, perhaps this. In our wilder dreams, Orkid is the first part of a forthcoming rock opera trilogy. It presents an interpretation of Tolkien’s Silmarillion (Act 1) and Lord of the Rings (Act 2). But there is more to come. The second part of the trilogy, tentatively titled J and I, tells the story of a god, J, who comes down to Earth and lets himself to be sacrificed so that Earthlings could see the error of their ways. It is told by his companion from another star, I, who after J’s demise continues to influence human actions from afar. But I is lonely, and in the third part of the trilogy, titled Luci, I comes down as well to meet her or his (actually it is her and his) destiny. The surviving members of the delegation from another star (Bellatrix, obviously) – I, K, and possibly L – settle the score for good and leave the planet. Or not. By the way, K and L are known to you as Orkid and Thiamer. And oh yes, they will be present in all parts. And yes, J dies on the cross, as you already surmised. Disturbed enough for you? Then jump in from the very start and join us in the Orkid experience!