Thursday, August 15, 2013

Immortal Orchestra - Immortal Orchestra (EP) (2013)

Young bands are almost always unfairly judged by the most superficial of criteria. Without knowing what they sound like, what their aspirations are, are even where they come from, we convince ourselves that we know everything we could need to decide if this album is worthy of our time. If there is anything we've learned in two years of reviews and interviews, it's that sometimes you need to pull your head out of your ass, and just listen. Florida five piece Immortal Orchestra, to that point, are not going to peak your interest with their artwork, or their still under construction Facebook page. Having just been birthed into the world of metal, they don't have a lot, visually, to catch your eye. Even a brief list of their influences may not give you any indication as to what is in store for you on this, their debut EP. But what they are, more than anything else, is another example of why you should let the music speak for itself, and leave the judgmental nonsense at the door.

With the unmistakable sound of church organs ringing out, "Overture Into Madness" is exactly that; you have a rich focus on the keyboard element, one that gives you a pretty stirring impression of what is to come. But taking this at face value would be a mistake of colossal proportions. Quickly evident, this is only a small piece of the tapestry that is the Immortal Orchestra. Joined by a full arsenal of distortion in "Ossuary," those same keyboard and synthesizer sounds take on an entirely different feel. The aura of evil that surrounds the track is not subtle, but it is well rounded. And while the mix itself may be rough around the edges at times, it boasts a very versatile construction. Because, despite the endless battery of drums, there are enough layers to keep each movement fresh. The vocals, whether it be the hoarse, yet clean lead, or the backing growls, have a way of drawing you in further. It goes well beyond their stated influences, into a more varied territory.

The same could be said for "Your Tomb My Kingdom," which bends what you expect from the doom sect. Sure, it has all of the gloomy atmospherics you would have expected, but there is more to it than that. The guitar work is more dynamic, going well beyond distorted chords and chugging. There is an even exchange between guitars and keys, both darting through their respective scales, that helps to give depth to the mix. And when you think you've figured out a pattern, or a repeated theme, they take a lateral step, and deliver a minute worth of moving acoustics. It speaks to the creative element at play, which is often easily questioned in young bands. But the progression of the album is important to note; ending with the out of the box effort on "Misotheism." It's hard to capture exactly what goes on in this four and a half minute framework, as the band harnesses so many different styles and influences, and combines them with no trace of bumps or seams. There is beauty to be had here, not the least of which comes in those final, fading keyboard notes.

Whether or not we become a slave to our own expectations is a point we can argue in another forum. But by convincing ourselves that a band will be good, great, or just plain awful without giving them a hance is something we can never really justify. Immortal Orchestra are a band in their infant stages, having barely scratched the surface of their talent and creative pools. But this EP, or demo, if you will, is already ripe with explosive material. Are there improvements to be made, or rough edges to be sanded down? Of course. But that is to be expected of even the most seasoned veterans of metal in all it's forms. In the meantime, they've given us more than enough to warrant a second, third, fourth or fifth album of material. With some support from a growing fanbase, this could be a project we'll be seeing on the front pages of major metal publications down the road. If there is one point that would be considered a failure here, it would be on their mission statement. They've proclaimed themselves to "fuel a tragic depression within you." Their music is too good, and provides too much hope for that to be true.


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