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Orcus - "Birth" (CD/EP)

Orcus - "Birth" CD/EP cover image

"Birth" track listing:

1. Defiled Throne
2. The Worm Or The Sublime
3. Storming Of The Bastille
4. Embers Of Their Lost Domain
5. Fear And Thereafter
6. Anti-Apotheosis
7. Birth

Reviewed by on August 30, 2006

"It is as if you are part of some X-Rated scarefest that has never been shot on camera before."

It's no secret in the local Los Angeles underground music scene who currently shares the heavy metal crown: Silverlake's My Ruin and Glendale's disturbing but musically brilliant black metal act: Orcus. Orcus may not have the veteran status that others at their same level do right now, but they make up for that with some of the most inspired and inventive musicianship this genre has ever been graced with. Their debut EP entitled "Birth" is nothing short of epic, with flashing lyrically-invested moments of brutal thrash, along with razor-sharpened, blood-soaked moments of progressive black metal poignancy at its most technical. More to the point, Dimmu Borgir and Cradle Of Filth are in big time trouble.

Recorded and mixed by Anna Cummings at Poison Carousel Productions, "Birth" and its first track 'Defiled Throne' have clearly set the new standard on how this now mostly formulaic genre is going to be judged. This is the 'Kill Em All' that the black metal genre never has truly heard, and yes, that includes Venom's legendary "Black Metal" album, which I first listened to before I was even a teenager. This song starts out like you're lost somewhere between hell and back, in an all out synthesized mosaic of harm to come and hatred that lies in wait provided from the wizardry of keyboardist, Andrew De Lange. The super-chunk gallop riff that is interwoven in the orchestral-frenzy from lead guitarist Hayg Terzian is just as sinister and evil sounding as the rest of what's going on here. Dead on the mark greatness.

Track two, 'The Worm Or The Sublime,' sounds fully reflective of the old school black metal genre, winding up like a spinning top and launching itself scattershot against the croaking vocals of John Paul Fernandes, with machine-like sounding percussion strength from mutantly-skilled drummer, Chris Moore. The song ends with a Children's fairy tale-like, yet horrifyingly sing-song chime growing out into a 'pull your chin up off the floor' monster-time explosion that breaks out from the entire band as if we are part of some nightmare adventure gone deadly wrong at this moment. The solo on this track is most effective amid all the sonic vanity due to the fact that it's one that's both bluesy and entirely wrenching with high-speed finesse and musical conductor-like articulation.

'Storming Of The Bastille' and sounds as if to literally pay direct homage to Michael Schenker's UFO band and even his legendary work on Scorpions' "Lonesome Crow" album when he was just a prodigious sixteen year old. 'Embers Of Their Lost Domain' opens like a church that has been set on fire with everyone inside, bridging into a Malmsteen-ish arpeggio climb, soon interrupted by a deep and wounding guitar roar. Track number five is 'Fear And Thereafter' and is hands down the jewel of the lot. It sounds as if Deep Purple's Jon Lord got locked up with a bottle of absyinthe in a decapitation room. Purely bad ass heavy metal with a low to the ground bass sound from Karo Torosyan that makes you feel as if your own feet are down and running for their very life.

'Birth' doesn't end its greatness there either, like most albums would early. The following track ,'Anti-Apotheosis,' is so chilling it made me want to slit my wrists, metaphorically speaking, of course. The drums and guitars at mid-song take you off into a demon-seed waltz of fury with more of Fernandes' eerie, exorcised lyrics. The thing that is so killer about this EP is that it is as if you are part of some X-Rated scarefest that has never been shot on camera before, but you are left all to you own devices as to creating the visual imagination yourself. The final tune is the self-titled track 'Birth' and it pretty much sums up the arrival of metal's hottest new act, Orcus. I need to go sit down now and cry.

Highs: Dramatic at every turn and full of the kind of expertly-crafted metal that got you addicted to the genre in the first place.

Lows: They could have added length to the songs.

Bottom line: Black metal has a serious new force to reckon with in Orcus

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)