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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