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Orchid - "The Mouths of Madness" (CD)

Orchid - "The Mouths of Madness" CD cover image

"The Mouths of Madness" track listing:

1. Mouths of Madness (5:51)
2. Marching Dogs of War (5:30)
3. Silent One (7:26)
4. Nomad (6:22)
5. Mountains of Steel (6:57)
6. Leaving It All Behind (7:20)
7. Loving Hand of God (6:11)
8. Wizard of War (3:19)
9. See You on the Other Side (7:16)

Reviewed by on June 11, 2013

"Orchid plays doom metal as if Ozzy Osbourne never left Black Sabbath, freely unleashes piano and synth lines like prog nerds, and spouts off about Satan and wizards like they were inspired by a recent Dungeons & Dragons session."

Orchid plays doom metal as if Ozzy Osbourne never left Black Sabbath, freely unleashes piano and keyboard notes like prog nerds, and spouts off about Satan and wizards like they were inspired by a recent Dungeons & Dragons session. Orchid rides out the retro sound on “The Mouths of Madness,” utilizing 40 years of music to work from. Reminders of better groups pop up during the album, and a true identity is hard to distinguish. However, the band puts up a formidable doom sound, enough to win over those hesitant for yet another band trying to bring the ‘70s back.

“The Mouths of Madness” could very well be a part of the early doom metal circle, with its vivid cover art and fuzzy production. The band nails down the spirit of what made doom metal back in the ‘70s so adventurous and unpredictable. They certainly have no place to be anytime soon, as the band likes to give each song ample time to space out. Punctuality isn’t a strong point, though a listener may wish that to be the case with a few of the songs.

The band doesn’t get lost in their own heads, but tends to stretch out ideas longer than they need to go. “Silent One” has an energetic start thanks to some inventive drum work, only to be shut down by minutes of dragged-out riffs at the end. “The Loving Hand of God” saunters around a menacing pace that, like the recent Black Sabbath cut “God Is Dead?,” takes an inordinate amount of time to get to the next gear. “Wizard of War,” on the other hand, is a burning success that keeps right to the point. Too bad its placement near the end of the album is ineffective.

The title track gets the album going in a positive light, with a stomping doom beat aligning with prominent bass and soaring melodic vocals. The forceful rhythm work is supplemented by the first of many great solos plastered onto the track. “Marching Dogs of War” gets into a comfortable groove that the other tracks don’t quite pick up on as well. The song having a chorus that can get imprinted into a listener’s head is not awful to have either.

The band’s prog-centric side dishes out the best material on the album. “Mountains of Steel” starts out with a mid-tempo bounce that isn’t shocking in of itself, until a loose piano line enters in a “Sabbra Cadabra”-esque moment. “See You on the Other Side” is a long cut, yet doesn’t suffer from the time issues that “Silent One” and, to an extent, “Leaving It All Behind” does. Punchy momentum, plus a bevy of acoustic splendor, equals a grand finale for the album. Synths and keyboards are spread throughout the album, but are in peak form on these two tracks.

Doom metal has gone through a lot since Black Sabbath warned us that Satan was coming around the bend. Orchid takes their love of that band, as well as many other luminaries of ‘70s metal/rock, and turns it into an enjoying romp on “The Mouths of Madness.” The band could tighten up their songs, as well as try to work in more shorter cuts like “Wizard of War,” but it’s not a total wash for fans of the older style of doom metal.

Highs: Gets that early doom metal sound down pat, keyboards add layers to a few songs, band is in peak form when they get into a strong groove with their music.

Lows: That groove doesn't come often enough, lengths that aren't justified, needed another quick number like "Wizard of War."

Bottom line: Orchid is no Black Sabbath, but they do a decent job at playing doom metal on “The Mouths of Madness.”

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 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)