REVIEWED: Orchid’s Curse – "Words"

Written by Mike Hiltz


I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve fallen a bit out of touch with metal. I spend plenty of time among metalheads, but the last metal album I personally owned was Seasons in the Abyss or possibly something from Pantera. It took me a few listens to acclimatize.

The first thing that strikes me is all the things that this album isn’t. This is not a throwback metal album. No harmonized guitar parts from 1982. You’ll also find no blast beats here. Relative to other metal albums, the guitar tones aren’t really that saturated and over-driven. There aren’t a lot of guitar solos and the few that are present keep it brief and avoid shredder clichés. Orchid’s Curse opts, instead, for well thought out musical passages.

This thing is heavy. Really heavy.  A large part of that comes from the down tuned guitars and aggressive vocal style but, unlike many metal bands of their ilk, the boys understand pocket, feel and dynamic and that is what makes Words so heavy.

To anyone who is not a regular listener of this kind of music, it is typically very difficult, if not impossible to distinguish one song (or band) from the other.  Many other bands like Orchid’s Curse sound noisy and messy and with a vocal style like this, melody has to come from another source – guitar. The aggressive vocal style is a major defining component of this music. A traditional singer would be completely inappropriate and would weaken the sonic impact. However, the album is called Words and I wish I could make out some of them. (I know, I know. I sound like someone’s Mom). The thing is that vocalist Josh Hogan has some important stuff to say here and it would be a shame if that message was lost or overlooked.

Religion is a common lyrical theme in metal.  Hogan will have none of that old school Dio-style mysticism. His is a thoroughly modern take on the social impact of religion. His tact is often to ask questions rather than make assertions. Read the lyrics.

Words is an ambitious, well crafted modern metal album.  It could easily stand up to any “big” metal act. There is no reason why Orchid’s Curse couldn’t, in the future, refer to their heroes as their peers if they maintain this work ethic and attention to quality.  These guys are very good at what they do and it is apparent that they take it very seriously.

Overall, I’m left with the sensation of forward momentum. 

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