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Album Review: ORCHID – Sign of the Witch

As the demand for bare-bones, straightforward hard rock reaches fever pitch, it’s only fair that fans get a taste of the recent noise. If you’re actively seeking a sound of that caliber, then consider Orchid’s most recent offering, Sign of the Witch. After a scant hiatus, the band dishes out a more sizable helping of their Sabbath-inspired riffs and brain-tickling psychedelia. Each of the EP’s four songs continues along a distinct roots metal paradigm. To an extent, it pays an indirect homage to the Dogtown skateboarding scene of the early to mid 70s. The vocals and instrumentation present a functional rawness that contrasts with the EP’s otherwise disorienting cover art. Simply playing the EP is like dusting off a hidden gem; the listener is eagerly curious with excitement, while simultaneously proud of having found something valuable. [columns] [column size=”1/3″]

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Artist: Orchid
Album Title: Sign of the Witch
Release Date: July 17, 2015
Playing Time: 00:18:49
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
[list style=”music”] [li]Helicopters[/li] [li]John the Tiger[/li] [li]Sign of the Witch[/li] [li]Strange Winds[/li] [/list]
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Helicopters” is a solid opener with a keen sense of pacing. Rather than immediately utilize its energy at the start, the guitars are played sparingly atop a steady hi-hat groove. It effectively evokes the constriction of being under a watchful eye, unable to move while all hell breaks loose. Every time the chorus hits, that signifies a chance to flee and reach temporary safety. I like how the wah-wah-drenched solo assumes more of a background presence as to not overpower the chorus phase. While the vocals are noticeably bright here, everything else still manages to maintain sufficient prominence. The second track, “John the Tiger” shifts to a more conventional heavy rock sound in the vein of Mad Dog Woman-era Skid Row. While the song initially plays like an impromptu jam session, it keeps a strong focus and changes to a palatable blues groove. There’s a charming sensibility in how the bass feels very loose and naked during the verses, which was indeed a smart move. The guitars are especially plentiful during the instrumental break, unleashing a searing solo while also providing substantial backing rhythms. If Gary Moore were alive today, he’d certainly be proud.


The penultimate title track is what introduced me to Orchid, with its unmistakably classic main riff. Its involved bass line takes a fluid harmonic approach, and works especially well when complementing the solo. Tribal drum rhythms shape the verses in such a way that I can’t help but move. The phases fall together seamlessly as if the band had the clearest notion of the song’s direction. Seeing how this was the carrier single for the EP, it’s no wonder I was hooked. If anything, it deserves a top spot in a soundtrack to a modern road movie, should that ever see the light of day. “Strange Winds” is the final track, and has the all-too-familiar aesthetic of Black Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan”. But instead of dulling the pace, it feels like being reacquainted with an old friend. Out of all the tracks, it emits a more mature and grounded vibe. The production on this song is more pronounced and really gives it exuberant warmth. In fact, I had to replay it multiple times to immerse myself deeper in that same sensation.

Overall, I was pleased with what Orchid had provided to tide listeners over until their forthcoming album is released. Hopefully these four songs will be included in some form. But even if they aren’t, they truly serve as an effective interlude for the future greatness that abounds. For anyone hesitant to jump right into a full-length album, Sign of the Witch sufficiently encapsulates the band’s ethos in a nutshell.

Orchid – Sign of the Witch

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Line up:

Theo Mindell | vocals
Carter Kennedy | drums
Mark Thomas Baker | guitar
Keith Nickel | bass

Orchid online:
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Jake Küssmaul

Jake is a musician and writer from the hamlet of Hawthorne, NY. Despite having mild cerebral palsy, he continues to break barriers, developing solid connections and lasting friendships with bands around the world.

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