The EP 'Through The Devil’s Doorway' and the full-length 'Capricorn' are regarded by many people as the very best example of retro doom rock in the world today and with good reason; great playing, fine production and a songwriting quality that is hard to match, especially comparing them with the endless supply of retro/proto doom metal that seems to be getting churned out these days and lets face it, most bands doing the 70's thing are pretty forgettable. Orchid are one of the odd bands out. The band is pure sabbathian hard rock and certainly nothing original but the infectious nature of their songs makes the band impossible to ignore.
The 'Heretic 10" EP' is here as a teaser for the next full-length the band is planning to release and what a teaser it is. If "artistic value" is judged on how memorable something is then Orchid have to be the most consistent retro/proto doom rock band the world has ever seen. This 26 minute EP release for the label Nuclear Blast is surprisingly good, I really thought they might run out of steam early in their history but actually the complete opposite has occurred. The band seems to be gaining confidence, gaining strength as a band and perfecting a signature sound that is almost guaranteed to make sure the band has a very long future in front of them.
This EP is catchy as hell from the get-go. Opening with the title track, the band launch themselves into one hell of a memorable tune complete with heavy ass riffing, 70's organ, and a sinister, menacing vibe that keeps the listener riveted to the song for all of its 5 minutes. The band have always had a psychedelic edge without making it their sole direction any of the time and this opening tune has that early 70's prog meets metal meets psych rock crossover vibe. Every aspect of the band has an infectious edge from the bass grooves to the insanely catchy drumming to Theo Mindell's charismatic vocals. The band sound inspired and sound like they are truly loving what they are doing and that comes across in the passionate performance.
Second track 'Falling Away' is when you realize this band blows away most other retro rockers. This track sees the band taking on a more experimental approach, bringing in acoustics and a style that is closer to mainstream rock than it is doom metal. Don't let that frighten you because the results are positive. 'Falling Away' is truly a piece of artistic rock music, the kind that can stand the test of time. A lot of EP's are of course full of filler. Bands use them to fill the gap between full length albums or to meet record label obligations but this is not the case here. Here we have 3 new songs of exceptional quality that are every bit as good as anything from the 'Capricorn' album. If the 'Capricorn' album seemed to get a bit stale to you after a while (this is a complaint I have read many times) then I suspect you won't get that feeling with this EP.
The detour that is 'Falling Away' is soon replaced by the earth shattering 'Saviours of the Blind' which is pure Black Sabbath with an extra dose of blues thrown into the intoxicating blend. Again the band seem to be on fire, feeding off each other with passionate performances all around. The EP ends on 'He Who Walks Alone' which originally came from their début album 'Capricorn' and I don't know why they have re-released here because it doesn't have the some power than it did on the full length album and that brings me to my one and only gripe but it is a minor one. The production on this EP is not great, not bad, not a deal breaker but it does sound a bit flat and lifeless compared with the 'Capricorn' album. Something about the mix seems a bit askew but I must stress, it is no biggie, just a slight annoyance.
There is a reason why Orchid get so much attention.........they are fucking good. It really is that simple sometimes and while the retro-rock killjoy's will still find something to bitch about with this band, the faithful will love 'Heretic.' If you love traditional doom and retro/proto doom played with passion, integrity and authenticity, then Orchid is about as good as it gets.....9.5/10.