Heaven In This Hell review by Orianthi

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  • Released: Mar 12, 2013
  • Sound: 4
  • Lyrics: 3
  • Overall Impression: 4
  • Reviewer's score: 3.7 Poor
  • Users' score: 6 (44 votes)
Orianthi: Heaven In This Hell

Sound — 4
Orianthi commands respect. The Greek Australian guitar virtuoso (of which there can't be many) has worked with Prince, Alice Cooper and the late Michael Jackson in the space of only a few years and doesn't look like stopping there. Session players are known for their reliability and adaptability but only a gifted few can produce the goods when they're artistically liable. Boredom often reigns. Given her record and indeed her records, of which there have been two previously there's no doubting Orianthi's competence but on "Heaven In This Hell" she unfortunately lacks the creative spark needed to be a recording artist. Hopes are high to start with; first excursion "Heaven In This Hell"'s robustly pentatonic, Audioslave-style riffs are endlessly hummable. "You Don't Wanna Know" and "Fire" will impress guitarists with an eye for technique - especially solo junkies as they cross a few She notches up a few victories for the slowly dying practice along the rest of the way, but things start to unravel soon after these opening moments. The tack really changes around the half way mark. The electric guitars take a step back and the saturated popstar sound of her previous material comes right to the fore. The sound is fine in and of itself (if rather tepid) but the contrast from the heavier start is stark and the album never quite recovers. Soppy ballads like "Another You" and "If You Were Here With Me" are dispensable regardless of context but the hooks on other tracks towards the end unfortunately begin to sound very, very intentional.

Lyrics — 3
That session musician feeling resurfaces in the vocals and the lyrics, in that they fill the gaps where vocals and lyrics ought to be but leave it at that. The voice is well-trained but indistinct from hundreds of other pop starlets from the last 10 or 15 years. This works to start with as most of our attention is on the guitar but the voice needs to come into its own when the backing settles into generic pop templates and Orianthi, figuratively speaking, misses the cue.

Overall Impression — 4
The talent is undeniable, but on this showing it's just not the right kind of talent you need to make your own music. It's practical rather than creative. It's hard to shake the idea that each section has been labelled before it's been created hook goes here, riff goes here, solo goes there and that's what'll make good music. At the end of the day it doesn't, but "Heaven In This Hell" could be a lot worse if it weren't for the playing of a gifted instrumentalist.

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47 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I'd like to think that a lot of this album was dictated more so by the record label, rather than Orianthi. Executive meddling for the loss.
    Sounds like a mishmash of things I've heard done better before.
    The problem with Orianthi is that her songwriting skills don't seem to match her solo skills. Also, she's still attached to the pop aesthetic.
    i wish she'd stop tryin the pop route, she's not a pop artist to me, it seems like she's tryin to hard to be taylor swift with mad guitar skills but she should just be like a female steve vai, or yngwie malmsteem, or paul gilbert. i'd like to hear more stuff from her like highly strung.
    Hear! Hear! Orianthi is and needs to be a guitar player! Not a pop princess! She is definitely up there with Vai and Satch. Steve Vai openly expresses his admiration for her love of the guitar and her skills!
    Ever notice how so-called "virtuosos" tend to be really, really bad at everything except soloing? It's gotta be pretty lame being this amazing technical guitarist that can't write a simple catchy melody to save your life.
    Apparently, you've never met Steve Vai or Joe Satriani. Or Eddie Van Halen. I could go on, but.../shrug
    Sammy Mantis
    Your right, many of them are. Check out Shawn Lane and Buckethead though, those guys can write great songs. They do solo, but it's always about the song itself first.
    This has to be the most impartial review I've ever read on UG. So congratulations for that. Personally not a bit fan of this kind of music anyway. It does sound stale and uninteresting, but all sort of pentatonic blues-driven rock type stuff does to me. Production's pretty good and she's undeniably talented though.
    Whenever I see reviews that give a low score I usually will listen to the album. After one go, I wouldn't agree with the score as it is, maybe just a bump higher in my opinion. You can tell these songs are formulated in a pop sense. The solos though, seem to be detached from that in that they seem much more original and thought out. I think she should just get away from the record labels as well as the overall pop feel.
    The only reason I wouldn't suggest bumping the review score up a notch is that it seems to me to reflect a seriously considered and critical (intellectually critical, not negative) listening of the album. This is sorely lacking in UG reviews. Many bands that have a lot of followers on this site score 8-10 in album reviews just for releasing an album, and a 7 is considered a weak release. If you were to score a 7/10 for a bad submission in high school or university that's a 'B' or 'Distinction' grade. 5 is a pass. Based on the review, this album has highlights, but did not 'pass' the test of making a creative and interesting album, so it can't score more than a 4.
    Maybe she needs to work with a band that can offset HER lack of songwriting skills; quit the whole "solo" crap. Crappy thing is, I'm not sure how much that would help her out. It's tough to hide behind poor songwriting skills. But, hey, not all guitarists can be a Steve Vai when it comes to creativity and originality...
    The music is pretty good, but probably would have sounded a lot better if it had been stripped down a little. All that extra production hurts more than it helps.
    Gerard Way Jr
    I'm guessing the 1 thumbs-down was from someone who didn't agree with the review. Pretty hilarious when the question is of whether or not the review helped, not whether or not you agree. Personally, I'm with captainsnazz in saying that this is refreshingly moderate for UG.
    Very good, objective review. Tempting though it is to suggest to Orianthi that songwriting might not be her thing, it seems that basic pop music really is important and interesting to her. We all contribute to projects that, realistically, most people won't enjoy. Maybe it's time for her to get a side-project that better reflects her virtuoso side, and separately maintain her solo-artist pop side. If Maynard James Keenan can tour Australia as part of Tool, A Perfect Circle and Puscifer inside of two months, then I can't think of any reason Orianthi can't perform as her 'pop' and 'rock' personas separately.
    Very nicely written review. Keep that quality up! Too bad the quality of the music doesn't match...
    Carl Hungus
    She needs a producer/creative director who can lead a young artist like her. Being incredibly talented is no shield from being slightly stale and derivative.
    I think the review was a bit too negative. That said, I do have an 'issue' with most of her solo work. The issue is that her solo work often fails to show just what she is capable of as a guitar player. Orianthi is an amazing hard rock guitarist. She can rip a solo or fill with the best of them. Her work with Alice Cooper was amazing. There are clips of her practicing with Michael Jackson that are awesome. Her piece, Highly Strung, with Steve Vai is incredible. If I were even remotely qualified to give her advice, I would tell her to borrow a page from Nikki Sixx's book. In his band Sixx AM, Sixx is not the vocalist - he is the leader / songwriter / bass player. Orianthi should do the same - write (if she can / wants to), lead the band and play the hell out of her guitar! And yes - she should move away from the pop and dig into the heavier stuff that she excels at!
    I personally really enjoyed the record. It's a shame people don't feel the same.
    Battery Chicken
    Not really my bag, but its nice to see a hometown girl making good internationally. I just think she needs to ditch the pop star cliche crap, and start recording what she loves. At the end of the day it's guitar-porn music, you have to play to your audience.
    I think that soloing is her strong point, so why not release a primarily instrumental album a la Malmsteen, Vinnie Moore? Yeah, it's more of a niche, but surely the music and the enjoyment of creating and performing said music would be more satisfying than playing pop with a few licks here and there? That's just my take on it, I actually enjoy her music
    she was ****in` great on the tour with alice cooper! she rocked so much. these tracks are quite cool i think, you can hear the influences (especially Hendrix) but i dont think i will become a big fan of her..
    This is a top notch review. It has good composition and great arguments to back up the opinions. Thanks. I must disagree with the outcome, though. I have only listened to the album twice, and I thought it was a bit inconsistent but not at all bad. Also I seemed to like different songs from the reviewer. I liked the more bluesy songs like You don't want to know and especially Filthy blues. It's not an earth shaking album, but it's not bad at all either. But like I said in the beginning the fact that I disagree with the reviewer I must compliment him on job well done.
    Damn isn't that a little bit too much of a hate? I agree that she was nice when she first appeared on the market, but now she is lacking 'something'. However I can't agree with this 'session musician' point of view. It sounds like you are flustrated and jealous becouse she's just better than you(...and had a chance to work with guys you mentioned). I agree that she could do something more creative than those tracks. The thing is that we don't have a lot NEW music like this- influenced by icons like Hendrix, Santana whatever. There are some artists who try to make such stuff obviously, but they are not let's say... charismatic enough to get this running. I'm still wondering if she is- time will tell :]. Plus- soppy ballads like that will always sell themselves somehow. No matter what do you personally think, you must admit that her music is better than most of the pop things out there :x.
    C'mmon guys, whtever shit u say, this a very decent album from her, and she definitely have moved up in her career with it. so, STFU, and salute her.
    I think that this whole album has a nice heavy sound. I'll give you that the title song really rocks, and most of the other songs do not come up to that promise. However that does not mean that they are bad, on the contrary. A very listenable album I would say. As for song-writing skills, not even Jimi Hendrix could write good songs. I think Orianthi is better than him in that respect. And the drum sound is really heavy, I like that too.
    And have you listened to the whole album? What about track 10, "Filthy Blues" which is a classic 12-bar blues with a very nice (and filthy!) solo. I love it! In fact I love all of Orianthis albums.
    I agree that the song structures seem a bit forced. It's all "laid out" perfectly, which is what makes it so boring. The guitar solos sound great though, I must say.
    To see what might have been, check out the version of Heaven in this hell on the Guitar Center video. I think it's far superior to the over produced album version.