Thursday, June 19, 2014

Oruga: Blackened Souls (2014)

As Our Age's Greatest Philosopher Said

Review by joanismylover, the third metal attorney.

Many philosophers and great thinkers have observed an earthly truth: without pain, pleasure is diminished; sadness makes happiness better; with loss, joy is enhanced. As Butthead once so succinctly put it: if things didn't suck nothing would be cool. The sludge and doom genres live or die in this dynamic. Most practitioners beat the living tar out of listeners. Too much of this tends to suck. The best also briefly lift the listeners back to great heights, only to beat the tar out of them again. Oruga are French practitioners of the genre and Blackened Souls is their debut long play.

Oruga get this yin and yang dynamic correct right off the bat. Blackened Souls is a great sludge doom title and a good way to describe the bottom while retaining the heights to which most in the genre aspire.* The bottom is HEAVY. It's mostly mid-paced to slow, enhancing the thunder. The vocals here are growled but not in a whiny way, and the singer is almost understandable. He has an Anselmo-like quality to his vocals. Moments of attempted melody with the vocals in that context are not great but constitute a minimal detraction. Sometimes they work ("Cursed"), sometimes they don't ("Discrip").

It's six songs of about seven to nine minutes each. Openers "Hereti" and "We, Th" are just average. One who likes the genre will be satisfied, but not intrigued. All that changes with track three. "Dead A" is nine minutes of longing sludge doom of the highest order. Like the best of the genre, the listener is bludgeoned through depths but the glimpses of light are transcendent. It's these moments which push Oruga from ordinary to exciting. "Discip" follows within this context, but it's nondescript. It's mere aural foreplay to the crushing end to the album. In these last two tracks, Oruga give Blackened Souls the trait shared by every successful album. They make the listener want to hit repeat. "Cursed" upholds the high sludge "low-high dynamic" mantle from "Dead A" but its the album closer, "Ghost", that raises it by a ten ton hammer. This is where Oruga buries the listener in a Death Valley cemetery of metal, but keeps her all Casey Kasum and reaching for the stars.

Butthead will be relieved that in this case, this sludge doom doesn't suck.

4 out of 5 stars

*The artwork on this release "sucks" as Butthead would say. "Yea. Yea. It sucks!", Beavis would echo. Bands should never underestimate the value of a kick ass cover. This looks like somebody spent five minutes on it.


  1. Great point made in the review--after the first two tracks, I thought, "Eh, good, nothing special" and almost wandered away, but things get really interesting by the third track.

    As a side note, and I don't mean this snottily: Is there any reason why you weirdly truncated the song titles, sometimes just by one letter? I figured it out quickly enough, but I did spend a second wondering what "Hereti" might be, and why the band named a song, "Wednesday, Thursday," but with abbreviations.

    1. I can't speak for the writer. As editor, I thought the band was doing something cute with it, so I didn't double-check. My guess is that the band submitted them that way. Sometimes I think they do little things like that in an effort to trace leaks, though I'm not sure how effective it is.

    2. Yes I just list them as they wind up in my iTunes from the promo downloads. Sometimes I double check at Rate Your Music but this one did not have track listings when I looked. Thanks for reading the review and keeping us on our toes.