Friday, 4 November 2016

ALBUM REVIEW: Ortega - "Sacred States"

By: Charlie Butler

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 05/10/2016
Label: Consouling Sounds |
Tartarus Records |
Narshardaa Records


Ortega are not the first band to fuse post metal, doom and spaced-out sludge but they succeed by doing it bigger, better and heavier than most.  Sacred States” sees Ortega take their sound to the next level, delivering on the promise of previous releases and stretching out towards bold new horizons.

“Sacred States” CD//CS//DD//LP track listing:

1. Strong Eye (11:25)
2. Maelstrom (09:31)
3. Descending Ladders (05:24)
4. Crows (18:48)
5. Void (11:18)

The Review:

Ortega’s new LP “Sacred States” has been a long time coming. Anticipation has been high for the Groningen post metal quartet’s first full-length since their excellent 2012 EPs “The Serpent Stirs” and “A Flame Never Rises On Its Own”. They are not the first band to fuse post metal, doom and spaced-out sludge but they succeed by doing it bigger, better and heavier than most.

Opener “Strong Eye” begins with some insistent chugging before launching into fearsome, lumbering riffage reminiscent of a more immediate Neurosis. “Maelstrom” continues in a similar vein with melodic guitar parts echoing “Panopticon”-era Isis, while “Void” sees the band add some of Yob’s psychedelic crunch to the mix.

Descending Ladders” marks the mid-point of the record with a swirling cauldron of noise and gut-churning heaviness. In contrast to the other epic compositions here, the track focuses on hypnotic repetition and minimal riffs to create a dark cloud of menace. This sets the scene for the 19 minute behemoth “Crows”. The track is Ortega’s finest hour and showcases their considerable song writing skill.

Often bands stretch tracks into double figure duration by stringing together unconnected ideas and relying on predictable quiet/loud dynamics. “Crows” is a fine example of a monstrous track that justifies its length, a sprawling journey into the unknown where each section flows naturally into the next. In amongst the crushing riffs and ominous clean guitar lines, Ortega also expand their post-rock side with a captivating and atmospheric passage in the middle of the song.

Sacred States” sees Ortega take their sound to the next level, delivering on the promise of previous releases and stretching out towards bold new horizons. Hopefully the wait for their next opus won’t be so long. 

Sacred States” is available on CD here, vinyl here, cassette here and digitally here


Band info: facebook || bandcamp

FFO: Neurosis, Isis, Cult of Luna, Minsk

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