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Orthodox
Amanecer en Puerta Oscura

Company: Southern Lord
Release: 2007
Reviewer: Etiam
Genre: Doom, drone
Rating
3.5



  • Engrossing blend of post-rock, drone doom, ambiance, and free jazz



  • On their second LP, 'Amanecer en Puerta Oscura', Orthodox continue to defy their namesake. With an engrossing blend of post-rock, drone doom, ambiance, and free jazz, this trio are anything but the status quo, even for the nefarious Southern Lord (who are handling Stateside distribution while Orthodox's label Alone Records manages Europe). Aside from their general country/genre combination--'Spanish doom metal' being a rather scarce phrase--Orthodox are intriguing for a couple reasons. The first of this is the aforementioned stylistic blend, and the more significant second is how they realize it.

    Metal critics and promoters are generally too liberal with the use of 'jazz' as a descriptor, perhaps in the misguided expectation that it will equate to erudition in the minds of fans desperate for metal to be considered an elevated art form. But one cymbal shuffle or reed solo does not a jazz album make, and some tech-metal artists ubiquitous scalar patterns (the alleged 'jazz influence') have little to do with the art form that prizes originality and spontaneity over automation. On 'Amanecer en Puerta Oscura', it is a relief and pleasure for the selling point of 'jazz-inspired' to finally be legitimated. Opener 'Con Sangre de Quien Te Ofenda' marks the band's first foray into new instrumentation (such as clarinet and double bass) and pushes forward from its meandering beginning to a percussive climax. No other track is so jazz-oriented, but the influence is carried over in a number of ways--recurring use of the double bass, theme and variation song structures, instrumental predominance, and a less rigid approach to drums and rhythm than many bands in the doom theater. Rather than merely marking the downbeat, Orthodox's drums are aggressive and dynamic--almost narrative in a style that Max Roach would have appreciated.

    Of course, a legitimate jazz influence does not necessarily correspond to superlatives, and Orthodox's use of their new tools is not always exceptional. Their interpretation of sludge/doom is liberal enough to encompass such influences and their abilities enough to merit them, but any more jazz and 'Amanecer...' might have come undone. The standard combo instrumentation and lumbering distortion heard elsewhere on the album are necessary to anchor its sobriety, and the effects-laden vocals (think Dax Riggs at his most warbly and distant) that occasionally appear would only work with the backing of dimed-out stacks.

    Altogether, the proportions on 'Amanecer...' are just about right. Much more doom and the jazz would have seemed slapdash; much more jazz and the weighty atmosphere would have dissipated. If Orthodox intend to continue on this doom-hybrid path, their foremost task is to synch up their burgeoning jazz chops to doom's leaden pulse. If their tastes lead them elsewhere, we can only wait and wonder, no longer skeptics.


    Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
    5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
    4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
    3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
    3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
    2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
    1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
    0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

    Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

    Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

    The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



    ALL FULL REVIEWS FOR: ORTHODOX
    CD
    TITLE BAND
    DOR
    REVIEWER DATE
    Amanecer en Puerta OscuraOrthodox
    2007
    Etiam8/22/2008
    Gran PoderOrthodox
    2006
    Etiam7/2/2009


    ALL SUMMARY REVIEWS FOR: ORTHODOX

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    ALL INTERVIEWS FOR: ORTHODOX
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