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Orthrelm OV album cover
3.14 | 17 ratings | 6 reviews | 24% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2005

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. OV (45:43)

Total Time 45:43

Line-up / Musicians

- Mick Barr / guitars
- Josh Blair / drums

Releases information

Ipecac Records CD (2005)

Thanks to andyman1125 for the addition
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ORTHRELM OV ratings distribution

(17 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(24%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(35%)
Good, but non-essential (18%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (18%)


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Conor Fynes
1 stars 'OV' - Orthrelm (2/10)

Although it is obviously my number one goal in music to find the best work and new sounds to digest, a side-project of mine has also been to fine albums that either completely contradict my concept of taste, or strike me as not only being bad, but downright unlistenable. Although Orthrelm's 'OV' has quite a few people who have found something 'great' in it, it is one such album that completely goes against how I enjoy music. Of course, the possibility is always left open that an album of this nature will revolutionize my views on music. In the case of 'OV' sadly, shred drone metal is not the pick of the day, or tomorrow, or probably ever. Comprised of a single forty minute composition, Orthrelm takes a handful of sloppy shred metal ideas, and draws them out to such a length and level of repetition that sanity may be lost half way through.

Usually, I would have plenty to say about the slight nuances and themes that pervade a forty minute piece. After all, they are usually a work of labour and love, and often meticulously crafted. Orthrelm may have put a lot of effort and care into creating 'OV', but my concerns lie with how the music has translated into the result I have heard, and am hearing. A two man group armed with nothing more than a handful of guitars and a drumkit, Orthrelm is not aiming for the lush arrangements and instrumentation that a typical progressive metal band has. You either have the chaotic drumming, or an unrelenting shred pattern that does not seem to give up. 'OV' opens up promisingly enough, with a bass note that pumps along, as if it were building up to something epic. By the time the overdrawn intro is up, a listener will have been filled in on virtually everything that transpires within the album. The bass disappears, and in its stead, there is an ear-piercing guitar shredding pattern. I cannot say it is even a 'guitar lick', because what comes out from the guitar does not sound like notes. Instead, three, or five, or <.i> ten minutes into hearing the exact same pattern sweeping up and down, Orthrelm's guitar sounds much less like an instrument, and much like a winged insect with baby-making on its mind.

I could say that there are more ideas to 'OV' than the shred idea, but that might imply that there is any sense of variety to this. Occasionally- and I do mean only occasionally- Orthrelm will break out of the shred to amp up the noise with some chaotic riff-chugs plucked right out of the math rock handbook. After being virtually condemned to the notion that nothing else would ever change in the sound, it is a pleasant shock to hear them do something else, but after a few seconds, the listener is treated to a variation on the same bloody shredding . By the end of this catastrophe, headaches were inevitable. Now, to those listeners who have found solace and enjoyment in 'OV', I do understand that the seemingly endless repetition does attempt to reach that feeling of being lured into a trance and hypnotized, and as unlistenable as this entire album was, the drumming remained fairly intense. However, when an album becomes a labour of willpower to properly sit through, it becomes clear that Orthrelm's music won't be appealing to me any time soon.

Review by Negoba
2 stars Shred Noise Experiment with Very Narrow Use

Intentionally abrasive noise experiments always tend to split listeners into a majority that never get past the noise, a small number of fakers who cry "Genius!!!" just because it's wierd, and then the minority of people who have enough experience with extremely (and I mean extremely) challenging music to actually given both a fair listen and proper criticism. Though I do not consider myself a noise expert at any level, I have a little experience with other works in this strange category. But more importantly to this particular group, I have alot of experience with shred guitar. The fact that I have myself spent hours upon hours working on picking patterns means I have a few circuits in the musical parts of my brain not everyone has. This is not necessarily anything to be proud of. It just alters my experience of this disc.

This disc simply consists of extremely accelerated math rock styled drumming (organic, loose, but complex) with repetitive shred guitar patterns played over the top. Imagine taking a measure of "Flight of the Bumblebee" played by John Pertucci and having him playing it 100 times, then playing the second measure 50 times, and then each subsequent measure 25 times. The intention seems to be to let the brain get accustomed to the abrasive sound and then to alter the pattern and then let the brain settle again, switch, repeat. Some have said this is good meditation music, and it might be for some people. It is completely different from the oceanic, sleepy sounds we usually associate with meditation. However, it might actually work to anchor the mind in the moment and allow one to tune it to the nuance of the now.

The guitar has a small slap-back delay that makes it sound double tracked which would have been absolutely impossible to actually do. But the result is that we get a feel of multiple guitars playing in unison over the pulse of the drum. The patterns themselves are circular, some more straightforward than others, but all about half a second long. Some are pretty boring, some a little more chaotic, and a few are complex and interesting of their own merit. The pick rate is not mechanical, and the human variation in the regularity of the constant stream of notes is where the interest seems to come. In addition, there are little pulse beats that appear due to the slight variation in synchronization between the drums and guitar.

In the end, I appreciate what these guys were trying to accomplish with this disc. I sampled some of their other albums, which typically had numerous small sketches with a similar sound. Those works did absolutely nothing for me because the meditation-like angle was completely gone with the short time frame. I could not listen to one of those albums all the way through, where I was strangely able to listen to this continuous 45 minute hailstorm twice.

To be sure, this is an endurance test. If you make it 15 minutes into the piece and think "surely something else is going to happen," the answer is "not really." There are a few sections with short open spaces but for the most part the intention of the music doesn't change. I think by that point if you were going to be able to get something out of it, you would know.

This is the defintion of a niche project, "fans only." For a very few, it will have some value. But it is mainly a curiosity, an extreme digression in a world where it is nearly impossible to do something unique. This is unique. But I could frankly imagine it being used for torture.

Review by frippism
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars WARNING: I feel that maybe reading this review can spoil the very unique experience (either good or bad) that this album delivers, particularly on the first listen.

I think that in general, when I find an album that I like, I generally know why. Moreover, I don't understand how can someone else can't like it (my mean mean brain works that way).

This album does neither. I don't understand why I like it so much, and I do understand why so many people hate this.

But the truth is, that I love this album dearly. It is a meditative experience that in the purest ways, cleans the body out of all toxic waste, while leaving it drastically altered and disturbed. So yes, rather a paradoxical experience.

There really isn't much to say about the album. It is more or less, minimalist complexity. One 45 minute song. Mick Barr, the insane shredding monster that he is, pretty much exercises the same insanely dissonant, shred-type riff, for about 17 minutes. It is in a way the ultimate test of patience the first time around. Josh Blair's drums just drive this riff forward,- rolling tom tom and bass drum grooves that are hypnotizing you and putting you in some demonic state.

Every time there's a drum fill, you expect something different. But no! You will get the same repetitive riffing, again and again and again. When in the 17 minute mark, the drums finally stop and Mick Barr changes riff, it is almost like bliss. It almost like finishing a hard work out and the great feeling after it- a feeling of achievement as much as pleasure.

But pretty quickly Mick Barr does different riffs, but constantly repeats them once again. You cannot say, that this man doesn't have stamina. To be able to be treble picking straight for 45 minutes, is quite the achievement.

The riffing goes on and on and on.

When you listen to this album, while knowing what to expect, it not only becomes easier, but rather enjoyable in a way. You get hypnotized from the whole ordeal. The fact that this album can rather easily be shortened to a 5 minute version, and still have all the riffs in there, can actually make the album go by incredibly fast. It's the ideal way of time travel, sort of. It shows you how 45 minutes can feel like 10.

So, while I love thing, I don't find it remotely essential, for anyone, as most will definitely hate it, understandably so. It's repetitive, exceedingly dissonant, headache inducing at times. But if you want one of the more bizarre experiences of your life, listening to this. Whether you like or not is to be seen.

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars The metal universe has always been about borrowing disparate ideas and methodologies from other varied musical genres from all around the world. After all, the whole genre began by taking the psych laden blues rock of the 60s and dragging it down into the darker recesses of the sound spectrum to conjure up some of the most gloomy and sombre human emotions to emerge in its wake and simply cranking up the distortion level with darker lyrics. So it's really no surprise that as the simple blues inspirations became exhausted in the 70s that new fuel needed to be consumed for the metal machine to take musical inspiration and ignite so it will burn like a forest fire unleashing new hitherto unthinkable possibilities. ORTHRELM, the avant-garde music duo of Mick Barr on guitar and Josh Blair on drums had been leading up to this triumph of sonic glory called OV since their debut in 2001. While the metal world cross-pollinated like a lava flow smothering the fertile lands below a volcano it continued to ratchet up its complexity level and as it began to reach the unthinkable heights of the pinnacle of progressive rock, it was beginning to seem like there was nowhere left to go.

That's where forward thinkers like Mick Barr come in. On ORTHRELM's 2005 landmark album OV, the duo exponentially lifted themselves above the sheer math rock wankery that their earlier albums are known for. While classical music has certainly been a major part of the hard rock and heavy metal universe ever since Ritchie Blackmore incorporated it into Mark II period of Deep Purple, never before have the two extremes of virtuoso guitar shredding and the classical minimalism of artists like Steve Reich and Philip Glass ever come together until Barr and Blair released this album of polarizing extremes in the form of the OV album in 2005. Never before has an album of incredibly virtuoso shredding of guitar with the bombast of unthinkable drum abuse coalesced into a minimalistic music form that could result in a meditative practice if consumed correctly. As wild as it sounds, this album is in effect a wild ride into two musical extremes which incorporate guitar shredding with extreme minimalism simultaneously.

Despite being limited to a mere guitar and drums, Barr and Blair are veritable beasts on their instruments of choice doing unthinkable things at a million miles per second throughout pretty much the entirety of the 45 minute and 43 second single track that makes up the album OV. After several albums of pluming their feathers and ruffling them up to impress the music fans, on OV, the duo known as ORTHRELM finally delivers the promise they had been hinting at without sacrificing the intensity that they had been implementing all along. What's cool about OV is that it goes through a series of passages that begin with a minimalistic chord progression to wail on for several minutes and seduce you into the feel of the composition and going though various changes before finally letting loose towards the end with a series of intense riffs, shredding bombast and excruciating deciblage. This is metal unlike any other and only continues the duo's unique musical language that only they alone truly understand.

OV is a trumph in many ways. Not only does it undoubtedly indoctrinate Mick Barr into the world of fastest shredders which should not leave Josh Blair off the hook for some of the sickest drum abuse in the entire music history books but also proves that creating unthinkable speeds is not tantamount to a lack of regard for sensuality. While on previous albums ORTHRELM did seem to generate random patterns of musical intensity, on OV everything seems like the perfect cross-pollination of the most intense musical shredding session one can think of in the context of a relaxing vipassana retreat. As the single track rolls by it is engaged in a very mindful interaction between the two instruments that change up the parts ever so slightly but then without warning they divert to some new arena of musicality but always mindful of each other's role in the overall scheme of things. OV successfully ratchets up the tension to a fulfilling climax by the end of the album where the guitar and the drums practically become one with another and take on enough roles to simulate the intensity of a full band. OV is one of those albums that must be heard to be understood. It's simply too far removed from the context of any possible labeling.

Latest members reviews

4 stars A radical departure from their previous work and most likely the most challenging. For me, it feels as if it is the anti-thesis of prog music in a way - despite the progressions in the music, they come after indefinite periods of time, where most of the record feels it is spent in an almost en ... (read more)

Report this review (#596391) | Posted by Smegcake! | Monday, December 26, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Now this is a monster of a piece of music. I am sort of surprised to find this on here. But it is progressive, certainly, as a single 45 minute, progressing math rock ASSAULT, with emphasis on assault for good reason. For those not familiar with Orthrelm's musical work prior to this, it is oft ... (read more)

Report this review (#595182) | Posted by Renkls | Saturday, December 24, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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