Friday, March 25, 2011

Orchid: Capricorn (2011)


Retro metal is turning out to be a pretty big fad right now. There are quite a few bands aping the more embarrassing side of 80's metal, in image as well as sound, and I can't figure out why anyone would want to do that. Thankfully, the Blue Öyster Cult-influenced Ghost is only the most visible member of a 70's revival. San Francisco's Orchid is another.

CapricornAs you might guess from their name, Orchid is influenced by Black Sabbath. Actually, "influenced by" is probably the wrong way to put it. This is unabashed (original 1970-1978) Sabbath worship in every respect, from their name ("Orchid / Lord of this World", in case you missed that), to their psychedelic band logo, to their promo photographs, to every single aspect of their sound and dark/occult lyrical content. Vocals, guitar tones, bass, drums, every part of it sounds like the bluesy, psychedelic metal of Sabbath. And like the progenitors of heavy metal, Orchid writes some catchy songs.

Again, maybe "writes catchy songs" is the wrong way to put it. More accurately, they offer up alternate versions of Sabbath classics. "Black Funeral" is "Hand of Doom", "Down into the Earth" is "Into the Void", and "Albatross" is "Planet Caravan", to cite only a few examples.

That might not be such a bad thing. After all, even Black Sabbath dropped the Black Sabbath sound more than 30 years ago, so anyone else should feel free to pick it up again. And if you're going to carbon copy a band, I can't imagine a better one. On the other hand, doing something different with it wouldn't have hurt them a bit. The old-school production isn't as heavy as I'd like, and it's a tad quiet, and there would have been no harm in bringing some kind of modern musical flavor to the proceedings at some point. Orchid also seems to take a narrow view of what Sabbath was all about--even though they take some cues from not-so-classic tracks like "Who Are You?" (see "Electric Father"), their pace is always a doom pace. Sabbath played a lot of fast songs, too, or did we forget "Paranoid"? I was also a little disappointed to find "Black Funeral" wasn't a Mercyful Fate cover (hearing Sabbath covering Fate, even if it's not the real Sabbath, probably would have made me crap my pants).

The Verdict: Many of Orchid's songs are catchy (like the title track). But after listening to the album, I sometimes found the original Sabbath tunes stuck in my head, even though I hadn't listened to them in a few months. And then I just wanted to listen to Sabbath some more. You might want to do the same, and pass this one up. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.


  1. for a second there i got terrified and i thought it was the orchid. dodged a bullet on that one.

  2. Sounds interesting, but probably not something I am going to rush out to find.

  3. I can't find anything called The Orchid on Metal Archives . . . .

    Yeah, it's not something to get too excited about. It's good, but like I said, you're better off just listening to Sabbath.