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'The Zodiac Sessions'
(Nuclear Blast)
Release Date: 15th November 2013

Ian Sutherland

ian sutherland


Orchid are a doom metal band from San Francisco who have had enough success for Nuclear Blast to want to release their early work, namely their first EP and first full album together on one disc.

The basic premise of doom metal to me is that you should take the first four Black Sabbath albums as the template for what music should be like and go from there. While this can be a bit limiting in style the likes of Candlemass, Swallow The Sun and Moonsorrow have taken that basic idea and fleshed it out to carve their own epic heavy styles.

Orchid on the other hand judging by this collection of their work seem to believe that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and do their best to sound EXACTLY like early Sabbath.

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They are actually very good at it and I enjoy the '70s vibe the album has but it has left me wondering about where the lines are in this debate. Where does showing your influences turn into plagiarism and maybe into tribute band land? Let's not be snooty about this as there is nothing really new to hear any more, it's all been done before and you can hear thousands of bands who sound like Maiden or Metallica with a trawl through YouTube.

However you could take just about any track here and put it on 'Paranoid' or 'Master Of The Universe' and it wouldn't sound out of place outside of the vocals being an octave lower. There are no direct rip-offs of specific Sabs songs, 'Black Funeral' sounds like the song 'Black Sabbath' in places and 'Down Into The Earth' has an 'NIB' like bass line but Orchid seem to have worked hard to sound like early Sabs but with their own mostly slightly inferior songs.

Verdict: This album left me slightly non-plussed, It has a nice doom/stoner vibe and grooves along nicely but it is so much a Sabbath style album I found it hard to take seriously.

This is the band's early material so maybe they are finding a more individual take on the genre now and another thing to think about is I am old enough to remember the original Sabbath albums.

All I can suggest is that if you like early Sabbath or don't know what that sounds like then give this album a listen and make your own mind up.

Orchid are:
Theo Mindell (Vocals)
Carter Kennedy (Drums)
Mark Thomas Baker (Guitar)
Keith Nickel (Bass

1. Eyes Behind The Wall
2. Capricorn
3. Black Funeral
4. Masters Of It All
5. Down Into The Earth
6. He Who Walks Alone
7. Cosmonaut Of Three
8. Electric Father
9. Albatross

'Through The Devil's Doorway'
10. Into The Sun
11. Eastern Woman
12. Son Of Misery
13. No One Makes A Sound


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