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A Band of Orcs - "Adding Heads To The Pile" (CD)

A Band of Orcs - "Adding Heads To The Pile" CD cover image

"Adding Heads To The Pile" track listing:

1. Prepare for Domination
2. When the Hills Run Red
3. In the Keeper's Chamber
4. Of Broken Chains & Shattered Skulls
5. Wyrd of the Winter Wolf
6. The Darkness that Comes Before (Interlude)
7. Hall of the Frozen Dead
8. Lair of the Ice Wyrm
9. Stormbringer
10. At the Mouth of Fire
11. Fall of the Fire Lord
12. Adding Heads to the Pile
13. A Deeper Evil (Instrumental)

Reviewed by on December 29, 2012

"This album is best heard in small chunks, taking necessary rests to gear up for more of the same."

Stop me if you have heard this description before: a band that dresses up in costume, is a fan of blood, guts, and gore, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Yeah, seems very GWAR-like, right? Obviously, if you clicked on this review, you know that this isn’t the case. A Band Of Orcs does seem like a more ruthless take on the light-hearted GWAR, but there’s much more to the band beyond worshipping the ground that Oderus Urungus spits on. These guys are top-level musicians, and they display this on “Adding Heads To The Pile.” They also show their stubbornness in trimming songs, as the content does not justify the length the album takes up.

A Band Of Orcs is a death/thrash metal act, with a nod to bands like Goatwhore and Behemoth. Their lyrics deal with fantastical/mythical themes, depicting goblins, dragons, and ice kingdoms. It’s a wet dream for D&D nerds, and that audience of metal heads will be engrossed by what A Band Of Orcs has to offer in that field. The music is easy to get into, as long as a listener is content with raspy screaming, pounding double bass drums, and a tight chemistry between the two guitarists.

The most worthwhile attributes to the album can be pinpointed to the first half, where the band is still working off of fresh ideas. “Prepare For Domination” and “In The Keeper’s Chamber” are composed with the mission for slaughtering all ears alike, and they do just that with an abundance of drool-inducing solos. “Hall Of The Frozen Dead” is a catchy jam boosted by a resounding chorus, while the sinister “Wyrd of the Winter Wolf” gnaws at the listener with its soul-draining whiplash effect.

“Adding Heads To The Pile” gets mundane after the excellent, majestic “Stormbringer,” with about 20 minutes of yawn-inducing songs to end on. There’s little that warrants attention, and ending with a seven-plus minute instrumental “A Deeper Evil” was not the smartest choice. The exhilarating guitar play notwithstanding, the rest of the material is a bore-fest. They would have been wise to close the album out after “Stormbringer,” which would have been at least a more upbeat tone, instead of forcing themselves to the over-hour mark.

What is with bands lately who think they need to fill up a CD whether it is justifiable or not? A Band Of Orcs is not interesting enough to fill up more than 45-50 minutes, and it doesn’t help when the songs tend to follow similar patterns. A couple of twists shape the more enjoyable moments on “Adding Heads To The Pile,” but there’s just too much here to make this album worth recommending as a whole. This album is best heard in small chunks, taking necessary rests to gear up for more of the same.

Highs: Instrumentally solid, first half is engaging, death/thrash in the style of Behemoth and Goatwhore

Lows: Gets very dull around the 45-minute mark, too much of the same thing, some songs overstay their welcome

Bottom line: Some strong material present, but there's not enough to justify its hour-plus running time.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 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)