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Prior to this, the only Orchid that I knew was the screamo band, with my fleeting encounter with them back in my early days of discovering music. So I was rather confused when I keep hearing Black Sabbath comparisons being made with the band’s music, thinking if the band had changed directions, not knowing that this was a completely different Orchid (oh silly me!). Nevertheless, here we are with the band’s second full length effort, The Mouths of Madness, 2 years after their highly-acclaimed debut album Capricorn.
With the first moments of Mouths of Madness, the reason behind all the raving about the band and the Black Sabbath comparisons are immediately clear. Despite their rather recent formation in the late 2000s, the band easily captures the essence of early doom metal, with their entire visual and aural aesthetics being extremely reminiscent of the material that Sabbath put out early in their careers. The riffs that guitarist Mark unleashes on the album often brings about memories of the first four Sabbath albums. Even the lead guitars reek of Iommi’s influences and the drumming of Carter resemble that of Bill Ward, certainly a pleaser to Sabbath fans. There’s also that usage of background effects and the synths to reinforce the dark and ominous atmosphere, such as on Silent One. Seriously, it can be quite fun trying to match each of the tracks on The Mouths of Madness to a Sabbath track.
One thing that really got me on the album was the vocals of Theo, being rather unique and despite not being anything like Ozzy’s he manages to help provide a nice touch to the overall feel of the music, fitting the band like a glove. The old school feel of the album is aided by the production quality, and fitting to the themes of Orchid, the bass is mixed rather high, allowing for bassist Keith to shine as well with the wizardry on his instrument.
The Sabbath worship is completed by the release of the video of Wizard of War, with the entire band’s look and the video’s feel being comparable to that of early music videos, with Wizard of War being extremely reminiscent of the video of Paranoid.
Sure, the band may have drawn criticisms for being complete Sabbath rip-offs (not completely untrue). But it is hard denying the quality of the music that is on The Mouths of Madness, and for those complaining and griping about the quality (or lack of) on 13, this should be a sufficient “replacement” for those looking for new material in the veins of early Sabbath. And honesty, it is precisely because they sound almost exactly like early Sabbath that makes The Mouths of Madness such an enjoyable album.
If you don't follow the latest metal releases nowadays, you'll probably think that the 70s doom metal sound has been extinct, but giving a small listen to the new album "The Mouths of Madness" for the American doom metal band "Orchid" will change your mind forever. Nuclear Blast, the huge record label has caught a perfect release to get back the golden metal sound of the 70s with this amazing album, Black Sabbath and Pentagram (The American doom metal band) are alive and breathing in every track in "The Mouths of Madness", the result is really impressive and this release will just blow your ears.
One of the first things that will catch your attention is the aged production, especially the sound of the fuzzy rhythmic guitar and edgy-ferocious lead guitar tune, such production is one of the most important elements that will pull you into the golden metal era. Theo Mindell (the vocalist of the band) has come into this world by a time machine, his antique throat enfolds around the unique production and give the listeners another "Master of Reality" to be considered as a classic release. Tony Iommi's numb guitar formula are re-created in this album, and some traditional heavy metal fans would think that Orchid is trying to clone Iommi's psychedelic touches, but in my point of view I can see a total different thing, because tributing the giants is not an easy thing at all. There are a lot of bands nowadays who try to clone the sound of the old Black Sabbath, and a lot of them are failing to create that old and dusty sound, but Orchid in this album has passed this impossible test and they also added their own clever melodious core to the microstructure of the tracks.
The nine tracks of this record have the common antique riffing performance, the vital drumming is engaged with the bassline to create an anesthetized atmosphere around the void of guitars. tracks like "Leaving it all behind" and "Marching dogs of war" have some super drumming moments and some hyper-active bass performance, you cant get bored from these tracks even if you play them again and again. "See you on the other side" is my favorite track in this record, maybe because the guitar melodies have made me believe that this track has been released in the 70s. The track "Nomad" has a calm and bluesy atmosphere, the thing that the traditional doom metal bands Pentagram and Witchcraft have always presented in some of their tracks, and such an atmosphere is really catchy and memorable.
The classic style of the artwork (that reminds me of the album Vol4 for Black Sabbath) says it all, the identity that the band seeks is winding around the history of Black Sabbath, and I really find this identity excellent and characteristic, because no one in the world can deny that Black Sabbath is one of the best metal bands in the history of metal music.
Originally written for:
The Mouths Of Madness is the second album from San Fransico doom rockers Orchid, formed in 2007. As the band name and album cover might suggest, these guys are heavily influenced by Black Sabbath and although this kind of band is right up my alley, this was actually the first time I listened to Orchid. They quickly turned out to be a pleasant acquaintance.
Strong riffs, a tight rhythm section and psychedelic background guitar passages are the first things that come to mind when trying to describe how the album sounds. Theo Mindell’s voice bears some resemblance to Blackie Lawless’ and while W.A.S.P. isn’t the first band that comes to mind when thinking of doom metal and stoner rock, his voice fits the music perfectly. The production is spot-on, guiding the listener’s thoughts to the sound of Master Of Reality while still sounding modern.
There really are no weak tracks on this album. Naming a few favourites, the intense title track with its addicting riff is a no-brainer. The slow and heavy Nomad is another great song that would probably be great live, in between two faster songs, such as Leaving It All Behind and See You On The Other Side. Some of the similarities to Sabbath throughout the album might be cutting a little too close - I hear small resemblances to songs such as N.I.B., A National Acrobat and Children Of The Sea, and the main riff in Loving Hand Of God comes directly from After Forever. But as someone once said - “Tony Iommi has already written every metal riff in existence” - so I guess it’s pretty hard for any metal band not to rip off Black Sabbath.
I realize I’ve done a lot of comparisons to Sabbath in this review but it’s kind of hard not to, and in many ways this is actually how I would want the coming Black Sabbath album to sound although I have little hope that it will be as good as The Mouths Of Madness. Don’t get me wrong, this is in no way a copycat record - Orchid has a distinct identity of their own and this is a really good album that deserves a lot of attention. Check it out.
Originally written for www.metalcovenant.com
As the name of Black Sabbath continues into 2013 with their eagerly awaited upcoming release, so does their legacy live on as if 1975 and beyond never happened. San Fran doom rockers Orchid are, of all the Sabbath influenced bands I have yet heard, easily the most derivative of the template laid down by Iommi & co. This comes in every form of the four-piece - Theo Mindell's Ozzy-esque vocal wails, the bellowing bubbling bass sound of Keith Nickel which is quintessentially Geezer Butler all over again, the various guitar tones of Mark Baker and the percussion performance of Carter Kennedy. But mostly it is the compositions all which borrow liberally and make "The Mouths of Madness" the success and failure it is can be seen as.
Classifiable as doom in the hippie sense of the term personified by Sabbath, the album kicks off with the up-tempo title track, the very opening riff being reminiscent of Volume 4's tone from those-who-shall-not-be-named. "Marching Dogs of War" aims squarely for the "War Pigs" vibe with its introduction of bombing and sirens and anti-war lyrics leaving nothing to the imagination. "Silent One" kicks off in inestimable fashion before lurching into a sanctimoniously "Symptom of the Universe"-esque riff the forefathers would proud to call their own. "Wizard of War" is the "Paranoid" of the piece - a straight-forward palm-muted riff fest that is deservedly encapsulated in the bands 1970's inspired video.
All the while through "Nomad", "Mountains of Steel" and "Leaving It All Behind" the artistic merit of Orchid's flowering creations remains high and enjoyable from first listen, an appealing vision of how a bunch of guys are interpreting revered music that was created long before their birth. Judged against some of the other mighty 'heritage rock' releases of the past year or two, this is as well-constructed as any other, but for being so utterly inspired by one band alone rather than an era holds "The Mouths of Madness" back from the highest echelons. Still, if "13" doesn't match lofty expectations this summer then we've still got this to look back on with joy.
Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net