Orthodox CD review by Luc Rodgers

Music Reviews
Orthodox CD review by Luc Rodgers
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Jan 16, 2008, 19:19

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ORTHODOX Amanecer en Puerta Oscura CD

Sevilla, Spain's Orthodox have been fairly quiet on the outsider-metal front despite the fact of being released domestically on the usual awe-inspiring Southern Lord records. As one may surmise, the mood is dark, the elements determined, and the packaging beautiful. But none can feel the still movement of Orthodox, of course, without sitting down with a candle, a bottle of wine (or blood), and breathing in the blessed relief that is this band.

Beginning with a handshake instead of a now-dead-baby shake, “Con sangre de quien te ofenda” (“With the Blood of Whom Offended You”) ascends with an easy slope lead by softly strumming guitar, forlorn clarinet, and loosey-goosey drums that, in the end, tighten everything to a slow, almost New Orleans jazz freak that could only happen at four in the morning. It is soft, easy, and smooth, but not to say uninteresting. As the drums give way to the upright bass riffing and bringing in the next movement, a function and a language is easily heard and the spirit of fear permeates the already dark blanket constricting breath. As it moves purposefully but without care, one can think of only dark clouds and our own lack of power to move anything heavier than a loaded grocery cart. As the drums pause for upwards of ten seconds between thumps, thoughts race until finally it culminates in a Coleman-esque mini-episode only to return to the first movement, as happens in traditional jazz, something they've obviously picked up along the way.

“Mesto, rigido e ceremoniale” sounds like something more expected from a Southern Lord band. Instrumental and doomy, they still seem to find space and pause that isn't often heard. Every once in a while, the chords will ring and the drums pound out a palatable rhythm, but returning to another, more electric rock-oriented freak-out keeps it parallel with what was already heard. After such an off-putting, stunning opener, though, this seems to fall by the wayside as far as interest or singularity is concerned. The following track, “Solemne Triduo,” will again de-pants the comfortable listener into shock. The effected vocals matching the wavering tones, the slow riffs, and straight-forward doom/rock approach is on par with the numerous Sabbath-disciple bands banging these days, but in the context of this collection, it further proves a flexibility and direction for this young band. Pound this at your local metal bar and watch the slumped has-beens actually move and ask questions for once. “Who is this? They're from Spain? “Really? I thought Haemorrhage were the only band in Spain!”

“Amancer En Puerta Oscura” blows in like Sergio Leone's “The Man With No Name.” A sneer, a cigar, a gun, and a bounty are the only things evident. Howling, lonely wind evokes the banging, haunted piano of “Puerta Osario,” further steering them from anything predictable. Atonal key smashing mingles with near-melodic ditty after ditty to drive one further, or just maybe under the safety of the covers a bit more. Luckily, these two are short-lived and merely fresh air before the languid, ethereal “Templos” (“Temples”) break the skyline with thick lines of pure black. A soft, two-note upright limp forces the song into a deep sea of swirling guitar, drums, and cooling atmosphere. As it works together in a lunar rhythm, the silence and danger of the scene are truly unsettling and addictive. It swirls and spins and drops you in the middle of closing number, “Parte II. Apogeum,” a revisit of “Solemne Triduo,” only this time, it is much longer and more freaked-out than ever. Maybe they think that the point didn't come across as much as they would've liked in the first part, but, in actuality, it is wonderful to listen to the same riffs and vocals only to relive the initial reactions.

Orthodox have an unusual power of not demanding attention and respect but commanding it. Though each track is, in itself, very different from the rest, a uniformity exists in the obvious objective; they cause one to want razor blades in their candy, and, only after permission granted, will tamper it and then slide it down your throat. The blood spilling out and coughed about will flow slowly and surely toward the sea where they, somehow, will be waiting with an expectant requiem. [Southern Lord]

-Luc Rodgers

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