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Opeth - Orchid CD (album) cover

ORCHID

Opeth

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.28 | 672 ratings

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FloydWright
Prog Reviewer
2 stars Given that this is a debut album, I have to cut OPETH some slack...however, I can't help noticing the numerous problems with Orchid. I might as well get most of the list out of the way before I begin. The drummer is nowhere near the level of OPETH's second drummer, Martin López, and Mikael Akerfeldt had quite a lot of learning to do at the time, as far as his vocals went (his growl is far too high pitched, and the clean vocals tend to wander on and off pitch excessively, as well as being downright incomprehensible at times). There's also a twin guitar tone that can be quite annoying after an extended time. Some songs seem to run on a bit too long, especially considering that the chord structures are not as striking as what I'm accustomed to with OPETH. Not only that, but there is a lack of flow from one song to the other, and some very odd jumps in the vocal volume and strange empty spaces within the songs themselves. I have to put these problems down to its being a debut album (I would've rated it lower), but it can make this a rough listen that is really only for die-hard fans.

In my opinion, despite these weaknesses, there are four tracks worth checking out as a forecast of OPETH's future: "In the Mist She Was Standing", "Under the Weeping Moon", "Forest of October", and "The Twilight is My Robe". One of the strengths of these tracks is in the bass work, which has a completely different style than what you'll later hear from Martin Méndez. The two are probably about as skilled as each other--but the difference is quite interesting to hear. Some of the acoustic interludes take on an almost medieval-folkish sound that you'll only hear on Orchid and Morningrise...although the almost 1980s, reverb-drenched sound (which I quite like) never appears again on any later works. There is one interlude in "Under the Weeping Moon" that even becomes a bit PINK FLOYD-like, reminding me of the middle section of "Run Like Hell" or perhaps even "Dogs".

Unfortunately, there are some truly problematic tracks on Orchid that make it rough going. First, while quite proficient technically, the piano solo, "Silhouette", seems to have been thrown on the album at random and is quite lacking emotionally, especially when compared to the four strong tracks. In my opinion it should have never made the album. "Requiem", while a pleasant enough acoustic number, is quite bland, even when you figure in the part that the record company mistakenly put with "The Apostle in Triumph". That final track, unfortunately, is where the album goes seriously downhill. For starters, those bongos and tambourines from the second part of "Requiem" sound...ridiculous. That sort of thing should be left to OPETH's next drummer, Martin López, who actually knows what he's doing with them. The vocals here are awful...the screaming is completely inappropriate to the lyrics (later albums seem to take much more care with this), and there is one harmony part that sounds far, FAR too much like the Atlanta Braves chant to take seriously. And, with all due respect, Akerfeldt's problems with the English language bite him in the rear. Especially at the end of the song. To his credit, it is understandable that someone who doesn't speak English as his native language might have this sort of trouble, and he has improved dramatically since then, even from Orchid to Morningrise.

And speaking of unmitigated disasters...I have NO idea what possessed Candlelight (OPETH's label at the time) to slap that terrible demo, "Into the Frost of Winter", on this thing. I have recorded better things on my home computer with a $10 microphone and a $60 piece of recording software. The sound quality is atrocious and the music quality...well, you can't really tell for sure because the sound quality is so bad it sounds like a bunch of banging coming out of a tin can or something. This is the final nail in Orchid's coffin, as if they didn't shoot themselves in the foot enough with "The Apostle in Triumph"!

This is an album mainly for the serious OPETH enthusiast. There are some in the metal community who seem to venerate the raw production, but if you are interested in a bit more finesse, this will probably be a letdown.

FloydWright | 2/5 |

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