Album Review - Orchid’s Curse Voices: The Tales of Broken Men

Orchid’s Curse
Voices: The Tales of Broken Men

Album Review By Isaac Thompson

Orchid’s Curse put on an awe-inspiringly ass-kicking live show; they’ve rocked Halifax many times over and are now systematically making a name for themselves abroad. They’ve proven themselves as one of the east coast’s best up and coming metal bands, but until now the only recording available was their debut album “Goodbye is when the Casket Closes”, which was released all the way back in 2006. GIWTCC is a great debut record but it doesn’t match the beast the band has become. So the east coast metal community has been forced to wait with baited breath for a new recording that matched the song writing and intensity of their live shows. Voices: The Tales of Broken Men is that record and it is well worth the wait.

I’ve opted not to review this record song by song because it exists in a much wider arena. This isn’t an album were you cherry pick one or two good tracks on to your Ipod, this is an album best experienced from start to finish. Although Orchid’s Curse are pure metal, they approach their records more like a prog band. There is movement and scope to this record. The songs bleed together, not because they are too similar or uninspired, but because they flow into one another seamlessly. Every so often the foot stomping metal tracks give way to pretty, and usually ominous, instrumental interludes. This is a trick used by many great prog bands and it works exceptionally well for a metal band. Contrast, Juxtaposition and dynamics are three things that I find lacking in a lot of modern metal, luckily, ‘Voices’ has all three in spades.

I love a lot of heavy metal, but I’m not really a “metal guy”. Some of my favourite bands could be classified as metal (Pantera, Black Sabbath, the Deftones, Megadeth, etc.) but I’m just as likely to listen to Gordon Lightfoot or Nirvana or Jay Z. Furthermore, I have little interest in Swedish death metal or the various “core” sub-genres (deathcore, grindcore, thrashcore, metalcore, et al), I really only have a loose understanding of the differences between these sub-genres (even after looking it up). A lot of extreme metal bands bore me. They’re all unmelodic screams, double bass-drums and buzz saw guitar. There seems to be no restraint or payoff. It’s my understanding that Orchid’s Curse are classified as “metalcore”, but they sound like plain ol’ heavy metal to me. There is no doubt that Orchid’s Curse has tons of earth shattering screams, double bass-drums and buzzsaw guitars, but they also have melody and layers to their music. Orchid’s Curse are my kind of metal band, they are as crazy and brutal as anything else but they understand that tension and restraint makes the heavy hit that much harder.

Beyond its sonic awesomeness, ‘Voices’ is interesting thematically too. While a lot of the words are hard to decipher without a lyric sheet, certain key phrases seem to jump out and grab the listener. Whether intentionally done or not, these lyrics guide you through an overall theme.

“It calls to me, it beckons me, it pleads to me to be completed.”

“Is this what I have chosen, or is this what has been chosen for me?”

“Don’t forget these words, now go make us proud and be a man”

It’s all open for interpretation, and I could be very wrong, but to me this album is about human potential and the hope, fear and frustration therein. It’s not the typical heavy band complaining about what is; it’s a band lamenting what could have been. The lyrics speak of the struggles of the modern world, the things that hold us back and the ways we hold ourselves back. The record is the equivalent of someone grabbing you by the lapels and screaming in your face “get out of your own way!” It’s empowering metal (the best kind).

Rob Corrigan, one of Halifax’s most talented and prolific musician/producers, recorded the album as well as adding some keys. Corrigan captures the band the way they should sound; raw and unhinged. There are some brutally powerful performances captured here and while the record has that loose live feel, it’s not muddy or shitty sounding. Every instrument is given a pocket to shine and that is another thing that a lot of modern metal bands lack (even the multi-platinum ones).

For someone like me, who loves heavy metal but feels like something of an outsider in today’s metal scene, Orchid’s Curse is the perfect metal band. They are a bridge between where the genre has been and where it is going. They’ve opened my mind enough that I’ve started checking out more “extreme” metal acts in hopes of finding more bands as rewarding and enjoyable as Orchid’s Curse.


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