Once upon a time, in the far away land of England (far away for me anyway) there lived a band. This band’s name was Black Sabbath. And one day Black Sabbath invented heavy metal. And they saw that it was good. So they shared it with the rest of the world, and the people rejoiced. Soon after, and for the next forty years and beyond, other bands would form and come to the conclusion that Black Sabbath’s way was the best way. And so these bands, whether they were paying homage or just too lazy and uninspired to come up with something new, would sound so much like Black Sabbath as to be nearly indistinguishable from the real thing. Sometimes this was an ok thing, but many times it was bad.
Like many people, I love that early 70s Black Sabbath sound. Sometimes I’m offended when I hear bands trying to be Sabbath. This is usually when it is done poorly and the only thing propping the music up is the Sabbath sound. But when done properly, I will eat up bands that expand upon the Sabbath sound because you just can’t get thick meaty riffage like that these days. Not without sounding like Iommi anyway; I think he wrote every awesome heavy riff already and everyone else has to borrow them out from time to time.
Luckily, my friends, this is one of those times when it is ok to sound like Black Sabbath. More than ok, it is great. Musically, “Capricorn” by Orchid uses every trick in the Black Sabbath repertoire: 1970s low-fi fuzzy analog recording sound quality, the down-tuning, massive riffs, the wailing Tony Iommi hammer/pulls and even the flanged bass line. Even the band name is taken from a Sabbath song title. They pull it off famously; while it isn’t an original sound it is at least done very, very well.
In terms of the singing, this guy does not even try to sound like Ozzy, which is also a good thing. If he was just doing an Ozzy-clone vocal thing then I would not like this nearly as much as I do. I think going their own way with the vocals sets it apart from other Sabbath wanna-be bands. The vocals actually remind me of Brad Sinsel from the short-lived early 90s band War Babies. I loved Brad’s vocals and I had to actually look up Orchid’s band members to make sure it wasn’t him singing. Occasionally, toward the end of the album I also thought I heard just a wee bit o’ Soundgarden era Chris Cornell in there too. Wee bit.
The first three tracks just blow me away. “Eyes Behind the Wall”, “Capricorn” and “Black Funeral” are worth the price of admission alone. The album is a little tamer as it goes on, but it’s still quite good. I’ve had such a craving for music like this the past year or so, that whenever I come across a gem like this I end up playing it into the ground. I know that will be the case with Orchid.