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'The Mouths Of Madness'
(Nuclear Blast)

Liz Medhurst

liz medhurst

orchid the mouths of madness

Orchid released their first album, 'Capricorn', in 2011. This second album from the San Francisco quartet is their first on the Nuclear Blast label and you can hear the evolution in the songwriting.

When I received it, the description was "a 70s-doom-hard-rock vibe" and that was enough to get me lowering it on to the turntable with almost indecent haste. Well OK, it wasn't vinyl - even though I understand one is available - it was pressing buttons on the iPod, but I was getting in the spirit.

Ok, let's get the obvious comparison out of the way first. Yes, as soon as you hear the title track starting the album off it is likely that the first two words that come into your head are likely to be "Black" and "Sabbath". The sound and vibe of Iommi and co is unmistakeable. If you don't like Sabbath you're not going to like this. Now that has been acknowledged I can get on with looking at the album in its own right.

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'Mouths Of Madness' is an album which takes its influences and moves a small step forward into making something new and fresh out of them instead of sticking slavishly to a formula. It's not a radical departure, but maybe further evolution will come somewhere down the line. There is a lot to enjoy in this album in the meantime.

'Mountains Of Steel' starts out as a guitar led track, but as the track moves on a piano makes an appearance playing riffs in counterpoint to the main song, which gives a psychedelic and spacey feel. 'Loving Hand Of God' is punctuated by a wonderful deep dirty bluesy riff with sparse vocals over the top telling a bleak tale and this creates atmospheric listening. 'Wizard Of War' is the shortest track at just under four minutes long and the most direct and traditional Metal track.

'See You On The Other Side' is where it's at – it is over seven minutes long so can legitimately be described as epic. It starts with a rocking section underpinned by the solid rhythm section which sets the mood. This leads into the prog influenced mid-section with some gorgeous acoustic guitar jazzy noodling adding light and shade and getting the hips swaying.

The final section returns to the main theme, but then morphs into an outro in which it is entirely possible that baked bean cans are being played as percussion over the dark riffing. I love this track – it has an air of eccentricity but enough restraint applied to keep it sane and sound.

The production is impressive and crisp, with the songs given the space to shine and move, and there is good separation between all of the different and varied instruments. I'm sure I heard a harmonica in there somewhere. Vocals do not stray too far into the sludgy territory that doom Metal can slide into, although they are quite trebly and I would have liked to have heard a bit more power and richness.

If you like your doom stoner Metal with a twist of prog then this is the album for you. It's got everything – tolling bells, wizards, war, monster riffs, chord sequences that you can't guess first time around and great performances. It deserves its place in 2013 without having to be labelled as purely retro. It hasn't gone far into carving out a unique niche for Orchid, and there is no way that those Sabbath comparisons can be shaken off, however I can't imagine there will be many complaints over this album.

Track Listing:
The Mouths Of Madness
Marching Dogs Of War
Silent One
Mountains Of Steel Leaving It All Behind
Loving Hand Of God
Wizard Of War
See You On The Other Side

Theo Mindell – Vocals
Mark Thomas Baker – Guitar
Keith Nickel – Bass
Carter Kennedy – Drums

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Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.


Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.

Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.


MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.


Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.



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