Saturday 23 November 2013

Orchid - The Zodiac Sessions (Album Review)

Album Type : Full Length
Date Released : 15.11.2013
Label : Nuclear Blast

The Zodiac Sessions, album track listing :

1. Eyes Behind The Wall 7:13
2. Capricorn 4:41
3. Black Funeral 6:27
4. Masters Of It All 6:34
5. Down Into The Earth 6:24
6. He Who Walks Alone 6:48
7. Cosmonaut Of Three 5:45
8. Electric Father 7:20
9. Albatross 5:52
10. Into The Sun 3:24
11. Eastern Woman 4:23
12. Son Of Misery 2:13
13. No One Makes A Sound 5:53

Bio :

Founded in 2006 with the sole intention of a bunch of buddies playing some rock music, things went pretty fast for San Francisco’s finest, ORCHID. No three years later, the band would release their first EP, »Through The Devil’s Doorway«, which set the foundation for a bright future – causing a real buzz in the underground, 2011’s debut album, »Capricorn«, took ORCHID’s promising, but still young career to a whole level. Receiving raving reviews all around the world, the band embarked on a first, successful European tour to bring their perfect blend of 70ies psychedelic heavy rock to the stages.

Pretty much right after that, Nuclear Blast offered the band a deal. Again, things turned for the best for ORCHID – before releasing their second full-length album, the two collector’s EPs, »Heretic« and »Wizard Of War«, sold out in no time and prepared the steadily growing fan base for what was to come. With the release of »The Mouths Of Madness« (hitting the official German media control charts at #18), the following highly successful tour with label mates FREE FALL and the frenetically celebrated show at renowned Rock Hard Festival pushed ORCHID to the very top of today’s vintage rock scene.

Now, their stunning early works (»Through The Devil’s Doorway« & »Capricorn«) are being re-issued as
»The Zodiac Sessions«  on one disc in a lavish digipak featuring an all new cover art by the band’s gifted singer, Theo Mindell. On vinyl both parts of »The Zodiac Sessions« will be released separately – on 10“ (»Through The Devil's Doorway«) and on 2LP 12“ (»Capricorn«) and will be made available in various colors.

The Band :

Theo Mindell | vocals
Carter Kennedy | drums
Mark Thomas Baker | guitar
Keith Nickel | bass

Review :

Orchid.  Like the reanimation of classic seventies hard rock, the San Francisco group are living, breathing nostalgia: their music is evocative, hard-hitting and, most importantly, utterly compelling.  The quartet made major waves when their album ‘The Mouths of Madness’ barrelled onto the scene in early 2013, causing the rock world to stand up and take notice.  Now, Nuclear Blast have taken it upon themselves to release ‘The Zodiac Sessions’, an LP which combines their two earlier releases ‘Through the Devil’s Doorway’ and ‘Capricorn’ into one massive slab of dark rock.  Gaze upon their mighty works in awe, brief mortals.  Classic rock lives again! 

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the LP was found in a time capsule from decades ago.  As soon as ‘Eyes Behind the Wall’ pounces upon you, it’s almost as if you’re transported straight back to the glorious beginnings of doom and dark rock.  Mark Thomas Baker’s sublime riffery instantly brings to mind the classic tones of early Sabbath, his playing on this record both powerful and precise: a rock ‘n’ roll heavyweight with mighty knockout power.  And when the breakdown hits midways through?  Yep- welcome to heavy music country. 

It’s followed up by ‘Capricorn’, another sure-fire hit of deepest, darkest doom, introduced by Keith Nickel’s John Paul Jones-style bass and thickened to cement-like proportions by Baker’s catchy guitar hooks.  Spacy, heavy, and with vocalist Theo Mindell channeling the very spirit of bygone rock days, this track just exudes power like a jet engine exudes thrust.  This was the title track of one of their earlier releases with good reason: if you want to hear Orchid at the top of their talents, look no further than this song.  In fact, look at this song and then keep looking at all their other works, don’t deny yourself some truly epic soundscapes! 

For the sludge-fanciers among you, you are well catered for with this release.  A fine example of this is ‘Cosmonaut of Three’, an oily, sickly beast that practically oozes its way down your ear canals, infecting your mind with such delightful darkness.  Not enough?  Crave more?  Well, you’re in luck: ‘Son of Misery’’s bassline is so gloomy and doomy it threatens to change weather patterns to heavy rain whenever you put this track on.  The only thing stopping it from turning it into an all-out monsoon is Baker’s guitar, stabbing through the blackness like bolts of ice-white lightning. 

2013 has been a very good year for Orchid, and deservedly so.  Nuclear Blast have signed themselves the reincarnation of the heady early days of heavy music, making their label all the more vibrant and Orchid themselves able to reach a much wider audience with their dark, bluesy, potent magic.  Harvest Orchid for your metal garden- and marvel as it blooms for you. 

Words by : Chris Markwell

You can buy it here.

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