Saturday 18 May 2013

Ortega - The Serpent Stirs EP

 The Serpent Stirs cover art

Ortega - The Serpent Stirs EP


Atmospheric Sludge / Doom

Narshardaa Records


Richard Postma - Vocals/guitar
Alex Loots - Guitar
Sven Jurgens - Drums
Frank de Boer – Bass

  1. The Serpent Stirs
Before I start dissecting this great slab of ominous doom-tinged sludge, I have to admit that I’d never really checked out Ortega before. Believe me when I say: that was a big mistake.
For those of you who have made that same error, Ortega is a four-piece sludge band from Groningen in the Netherlands, formed in 2007. They describe their sound as dark metal balanced with soundscapes and slow, heavy riffs

In April 2013 Narshardaa Records released their latest effort, The Serpent Stirs as a single sided LP.

The release consists of one mammoth 18 minute track. While I love a good long song, when bands step into the realms of ten minutes plus, they tend to have to really stand out otherwise the track can become monotonous. Luckily, Ortega know what they’re doing and never fall into this trap with The Serpent Stirs, regularly mixing up the dynamics with soft atmospheric sections woven into crushing riffage.

Unfortunately, some of these riffs are introduced and then rarely touched upon again. This leads me to think that some of them might have been better off used as a base for a couple of other tracks. Having said this, nothing here is out of place. All these riffs fit in well and help break up the other sections nicely.

Ortega have managed to create a great atmosphere with this EP. The feeling that comes across here is a dark, ominous one that really helps to cement the theme of this record that the band describes as ‘A trial of battles with inner demons, which binds us in our mind.’ This is aided by the liberal use of heavy reverb, used to great effect.

As far as originality goes, The Serpent Stirs doesn’t really bring anything new to the table. That’s okay though, because with fat riffs like these you still get a nice solid chunk of sludge to sink your teeth into, and sometimes that’s all you want. Ortega certainly excels in that aspect and you’ll find it hard not to bang your head to this record.

The Serpent Stirs features some stellar production. All the instruments sit nicely in the mix and succeed in being crushingly heavy without being overpowering. Everything on this track is really clear and audible and the band take care not to overuse fuzz or distortion, which is a common mistake even the big players in the genre make that can absolutely ruin a great song. Ortega have discovered the secret of ‘less is more’, and utilise it to great effect. The drums stand out here too, being well mixed and not over processed, with a nice and natural tone.

While there’s only one (superb) track, this release has a good chunk of longevity and is definitely going to receive quite a few spins, especially as a background soundtrack whilst working. At less than a quid for the digital version, you’d be mad to give this one a miss, and for those of you who like a physical product, you can pick up the vinyl for less than a tenner, which is a steal for such a great piece of music.

Available at:

Check the band out here:

Written by James Crozier

Great review by James. Glad to have back on board with the Sludgelord Team. Everybody check Ortega out as they are a great band that deserve your attention now.