San Francisco’s Black Sabbath disciples Orchid return with a 4–track EP, their first release since 2013’s “The Zodiac Sessions” album, again, on Nuclear Blast records. They fully incorporate the look and sound of the Birmingham originators to the extent it begs to ponder if they have gone the whole way and embraced their heroes’ previous hedonistic indulgences.
To appreciate Orchid best is to relinquish any thoughts of well, dare I say it, plagiarism. This could become a finger pointing referencing exercise in spotting where each element in every track was poached from or inspired, depending on your viewpoint. Therefore, an opening up of a can of worms could occur about where the thin line between being influenced to the damn right act of stealing begins and ends – tricky!
It is best to accept this is as unadulterated no-holds-barred love affair with the Godfathers of metal and the many hybrids/genres of the beloved form they helped to create, and then a pathway to an appreciation of Orchid can be achieved. Maybe this is unfair treatment on my behalf to raise said topic solely onto the heads of Orchid but, for me, it’s hard to ignore when they sound like hook, line, and sinker, and categorically worship Black Sabbath.
So, to put aside purity reservation issues, from the opening power chords (‘War Pigs’, anybody? – sorry!) of first track ‘Helicopters’ vivid account of the brutality of war amidst the wider world’s indifference, there is a distinct crispness in the production thereby giving the songs a direct punchiness compared to previous offerings. They have sharpened their sound and songwriting craft and the title track is the best proof of this pudding as it blasts in with an infectious guitar riff – it never lets go – and boasts a joyfully sing along chorus to boot. Quite simply, it’s Orchid‘s best song to date.
‘John the Tiger’ captures the classic rhythm section combination of Bill Ward and Geezer Butler and grooves along in fine mettle. They close with the repetitive, hypnotic, atmospheric, and quieter ‘Strange Winds’ using added organ, which has a slow burning charm.
“Sign of the Witch” is a confident step up from previous Orchid offerings and while there is no getting away from their Sabbath adoration, this is still an enjoyable slice of early 1970s metal.