Released: 2013, Nuclear Blast Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
San Francisco’s Orchid may just be the best doom band of their generation. Their CAPRICORN debut was nothing short of exceptional; a perfect combination 70’s occult/stoner rock and pure Sabbath worship. Since then, a highly publicized deal with Nuclear Blast Records has been inked, the 3-track HERETIC EP was released last year, and “Wizard of War”, the first single from the just released THE MOUTHS OF MADNESS has racked up around 50,000 views on YouTube. Make no mistake; you’ll be hearing a lot about Orchid this year.
And rightfully so, because THE MOUTHS OF MADNESS is yet another stunning release from these soon-to-be doom superstars. Thematically, everything fans loved about CAPRICORN remains intact, but while the Sabbath influence is still prevalent, there are also hints of Thin Lizzy, Blue Cheer, and Pentagram. Really though, it’s an album that simply embraces the soul, attitude and tone of the ‘70s. The opening title track probably best exemplifies this, with an up-tempo groove powered by monster riffs that are slathered in smoky flange and tambourine shakes. It’s an immediately familiar vibe without sounding plagiaristic. “Marching Dogs of War” has a jazzy, wide open swing that’s similar in pace to “Fairies Wear Boots, while “Mountains of Steel” is a bluesy jam that trudges up visions of acid trips in the desert next to an Econoline van with a wizard airbrushed on the side of it. “The Loving Hand of God” is probably my favorite track on the album, a sort of re-writing of Sabbath’s “The Wizard” in its tale of love found and of love lost. And “Wizard of War” is the most aggressive track on the album, and is just a top notch tune on all sides; if you don’t like this track, you don’t have a pulse.
As good as each of the tracks are on THE MOUTHS OF MADNESS, the album’s production is the real star. It’s probably the closest you’ll get to a true analog ‘drop the needle on the vinyl’ sound without actually listening to the album on vinyl, and is an exponential improvement from CAPRICORN. It’s decidedly less compressed, allowing the individual instruments on the album an opportunity to breathe – particularly the guitars, which sound downright gnarly (in a totally good way). But words don’t do an album like this justice, hearing it and judging it for yourself does. Which you should do regardless, because THE MOUTHS OF MADNESS is at the very least an album worthy of your consideration. But to the doom faithful, I say with full confidence, that Orchid will blow your mind once again with this record. THE MOUTHS OF MADNESS is available now in most territories, with a North American release in mid-May.