Not sure if there has been another band in the history of Metal, that has tried as unashamedly as Orchid to try and sound like Black Sabbath. But if there is I’m unaware of them and in fact it doesn’t matter; unless of course if they do it as well as Orchid. Although a massive fan of Sabbath the way Orchid add their own blend of groove to the doom riffs is very impressive.
With their latest release “The Zodiac Sessions” you can forget the “best of” type albums, this is a rerelease of Orchids only 2 studio works (Through The Devils Doorway in 2009 and Capricorn in 2011), with no tracks left out. In fact, they haven’t even bothered to mix the order of the songs, the first 9 are Capricorn (start to finish) and the last 4 Through The Devils Doorway.
Let me get something off my chest first. Sabbath riffs are all the way through Orchids music, albeit they only use these in snippets, the intention is there and I can’t help but think it is a complete ripoff. Just as an example “Son of Misery” has the dull drone of “Warning” written all over it (although this was a cover song by Sabbath), “Eastern Women” feels like a cut short “Children of the Grave”, “Into the Sun” has “Symptoms of the Universe” screaming loud, “Masters of it All” is reminiscent of the outro to “Wheels of Confusion/The Straightener” and “Down into the Earth” is nothing short of “Into the Void”. Added to the musical comparisons is the almost comical song title comparison; “Black Funeral” (Sabbath wrote Electric Funeral), “Eyes Behind the Wall” (Sabbath – Behind the Wall of Sleep), “Eastern Women” (Sabbath – Evil Women). Yes I know I’m splitting hairs but it is just too similar for it to be a coincidence.
Okay then, just to make Orchid fans feel good! This band does do some stuff really, really well. Songs such as “Masters of it All” with its sublime grooves from start to finish, “Down into the Earth” has one of the best riffs going around hitting the mark with 1.28 seconds left on the clock, it will rock your socks off, “Albatross” is hauntingly beautiful, “Eyes Behind the Wall” is all air guitar-heavy rock, Black Funeral has a dull consistency all the way through and then decides to blow your brains out with about 2 minutes left to go in the song, Son of Misery kicks arse and No One Makes a Sound has some amazing rock riffs throughout.
At the end of the day, I would say if you are not into Heavy Metal, but you want to explore and Sabbath are a little too slow and depressing, Orchid is a great alternative. But nothing beats the original band that molded this wonderful genre of music (Sabbath would be my first go-to, for what it’s worth).
Release Year: 2013
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Reviewed by Eugene Crabtree