Flagstaff, AZ melodic meal outfit Black Orchid have unleashed a new album, Wake, and have come to show that they are not messing around. Released on September 6, 2013, these metal maestros have delivered an intriguing and combustive sound that rivals much of what is in place today. Between the speed metal, thrashy riffs and the severe metalcore vocals, Black Orchid are bringing the pain and throwing down the gauntlet.
Their technical composition makes each song flow almost seamlessly with energy and attitude. The calamity of drums from Stephen Brannen crashes in the background while the foreground is dominated by the vocal intensity of Matt Babcock. Guitarists Stephen Haigh and Ryan Smith deliver a symphonic array of string work that act as the heart of Black Orchid’s sound (hear: “There Go I”). Their sound tends more towards the realm of Soulfly meets mid-career Killswitch Engage (Howard Jones-era) with the ways in which they scale from one extreme to the other, sliding up and down the metal range almost seamlessly. “Crestfallen” is a great example of this sonic diversity in action as you can hear the climbing and leaping of the scales and chords to create this catchy string sequence.
“Chivalry’s dead, let me take you from behind!”-“Good Intentions”
It’s always great when you can listen to a record from beginning to end and it just seems to power-stream your day. Wake is the kind of unrelenting, energetic metal that makes a great soundtrack to life. It rips through the veil and reveals the grimy side of life, both musically and lyrically. There’s nothing like a metal with a message to amp up your inner rebel, and Wake does just that. What stands out best on this album is their simplistic divergences of sounds- the instruments don’t seem to crowd one another for attention. Now this could also easily be attributable to production, which is fine too, but it deserves some praise. Far too often do songs and albums seem to happen in a whirlwind, come and gone so quickly you barely remember them, songs on Wake (especially “Good Intentions”) linger. For the listener, each instrument seems to come across clean and clear, but no less heavy, and that makes for a more elaborate experience. It’s always a great experience when you can feel the music instead of just hearing it.
While it does hit a few rough patches here and there, especially with some of the live recordings, overall, Wake makes for an interesting and refreshing experience. With so many metal bands trying to go more grindcore or more nu-metal, choosing extremes at either end of the spectrum, it’s great to find a captivating middle ground. Check out Black Orchid on Facebook and find out more about the new sound of the underground.