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Orthodox - Gran Poder

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Artist: Orthodox

Album: Gran Poder

Label: Alone

Review date: Apr. 15, 2006

Those that log on to Drone Slut’s Ideologic site every now and again have already “seen” the likes of Orthodox. At least they’ve seen their likenesses: tall spills of black ink, slumped figures poured into ankle-high robes; faces forbidden as well, sealed shut beneath the veil. A few photos were proffered: live shots; the band scattered about a stage woefully incongruous to the potency depicted – and harnessed – by a band such as Orthodox. The moniker alone, connoting the hard-lined ol’ time religion, is seemingly incompatible as well, neither understood as an “unpacked” order of angels, nor as fundamentalist fawns over earth-dogged riffs. Triumphant gear-headed braggadocio.

Despite the hyperbolic impediment, access is easy, as the music is free of doors, even hewn of its hallways and foyers. First track, “Geryon’s Throne,” whose name could’ve been lifted from Ladyhawke, spreads wide and far, reveling in vibrato guitar and cymbal sizzle, which traipses the line of a trillion other gutter rockers’ M.O., but is transformed as soon as the vocals cut through. Prior structure is stripped; there are neither growls nor rasps; yells nor yawps. What we have here is an oscillating, lysergic delivery, shutters of vowel and disgorged consonants: either the Butthole Surfers’ Gibby Haynes whilst entire albums were recorded on empty stomachs, or a young Ozzy screaming through a B-25 turbine, this is the purest example of the Hellenic “homoteleuton” – a word wailed once.

Which certainly makes for an intriguing admixture, as the instruments ape nothing so much like a mound of Patatas a lo Pobre poured over a well-played James Gang LP, slowly spun, stripped of some of its constancy: drums dredged in Elvin Jones’ polyrhythmic flour, fried in Mainliner’s unorthodox approach to Blue Cheer’d Ascension. The guitar whines and wanes – Stefan Jaworzyn’s dumpster disintegration profanely coupled with Pentagram’s Vinny McAllister. What crawls from the fetid womb is laid bare by tracks like “El Lamento del Cabrón.” Guitar riffs as primordial mud – boiling, low-ended ebullience. Orthodox is unafraid of acting impulsively, as spirited melee with guitar and drums abound. The outfit is also comfortable with letting slow tonal decay snuff itself. There are few bands in memory that can come away unscathed with so much un-metallic minimalism: Folk Rabe, Moss, even Bela Bartok’s Mikrokosmos come to mind.

While lazy ears will easily arrive at Melvins footholds, Gran Poder possesses a refined primitivism, a conscious indulging in influential genre, and a yield of the preposterously well-crafted creation as a result. By the time “filler” piece “Oficio de Tinieblas” tickles the ivories, Orthodox is so far from comparisons that the further program need not even proselytize. An extraordinary first effort.

By Stewart Voegtlin

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