Orthodox - Amanecer en Puerta Oscura Review
by Mark Hensch
If Sunn-O))) represents the infinite meaninglessness of the void that is reality, than Seville, Spain's Orthodox represents life's vibrancy and color. Free-form, meandering and lush, Orthodox's unique brand of doom metal fully embraces the band's Andalusian heritage. Shrouded in secrecy and clothed in Spanish Catholic imagery, Orthodox offers a pure but otherworldly take on the genre that also has a distinctly ethnic flavor. Amanecer en Puerta Oscura is the sound of religious revival, right before the Inquisition - joyful but ultimately ominous.
Take the Sergio Leone-esque opening track that is "Con Sangre de Quien Te Ofenda." This labyrinthine number winds its way through passages of heated yet sinister free jazz, crushing listeners with unexpected bursts of rhythmic noise. Twisting and turning, at times the song careens face-first into the most deafening of silences. When the actual music kicks back in with a cascade of psychedelic folk textures, the result is something infinitely heavy.
"Mesto, Ridigo E Ceremoniale" continues this trend as rustic Sabbath riffs plod through claustrophobic percussion rhythms and frontman Marco Serrato Gallardo's ghostly yowls.
"Solemne Triduo," for its part, works its way into a fervent ritual of Sleep worship. The riffs are mesmerizing and smoky, winding upwards into the stratosphere with mind-boggling freedom. Gallardo chants and wails his way through the lyrics, furthering the otherworldly atmosphere. Ghostly and grim, "Triduo" echoes like a lone prayer in an abandoned chapel.
Following this, the title track and follow-up number "Puerta Osario" display folk-inflected ambience and creepy piano keys, respectively. As chilling as they are, the real deal is the 15 minute monster that is "Templos." It rattles skulls with gigantic bass thumps while slowly working its way into an ear-splitting cacophony of cymbals and drums. In true doom form, the cadence it reaches is sheer agony, and the song is all the better for it.
Last but not least, "Parte II Apogeum" expands upon the general structure of "Mesto, Ridigo E Ceremoniale" by keeping the thundering riffs. Ethereal guitar solos and operatic shrieks round out the mix, each giving the song the sort of titanic finish which properly ends the album.
Somber and deliberate, Amanecer en Puerta Oscura is a rich, rewarding album for those willing to tread off the beaten path. Much like the religious iconography the band so often employs, diving into this record takes a certain amount of faith. For those souls fortunate enough to find it, this is damn near doom heaven.
Con Sangre de Quien Te Ofenda
Mesto, Ridigo E Ceremoniale
Amanecer en Puerta Oscura
Parte II Apogeum
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Orthodox - Amanecer en Puerta Oscura
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