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Orthrelm - Orthrelm

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Artist: Orthrelm

Album: Orthrelm

Label: ugExplode

Review date: Aug. 25, 2010

Listening to Orthrelm is a lot like being in the middle of one of those movies where the bad guy’s fortress is falling down, alarms are going off, people are shooting guns everywhere, and you’re wondering what the hell’s going on. Mick Barr and Josh Blair emit crashing, clattering drums and jagged, high-speed guitar runs that, at first, sound like random sliced and diced metal riffs — until you really start paying attention. The pair will race through a half-dozen different, perfectly tight segments in the course of a one-minute song, with every change negotiated unerringly in unison.

On this self-titled album, 36 tracks, recorded in 2001-2002 and released on a variety of out-of-print singles and EPs, have been remixed and made available again. Given that the album clocks in at almost exactly an hour, it’s pretty clear that the majority of these tracks are very short — almost half are a minute or less. A couple are longer, but the length of each piece is mostly irrelevant, since each rockets through intricately-constructed brief sections, one after another. Whether a song is 30 seconds or eight minutes, it’s still a journey through a greater number of short pieces strung together.

It’s mostly pretty great stuff, but tailor-made for singles. If there’s a problem with this collection, it’s that one Orthrelm song is an intense listen: sharp, super-fast strings of guitar notes and pounding drums, blasting through and then moving on. A couple of tracks bursting through the speakers is bracing. But a full album is simply exhausting. It takes an act of will to ingest an hour’s worth in a sitting, and you’ll be wise not to drink coffee at the same time. You’ve been warned.

By Mason Jones

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