Orthodox - Gran Poder (Southern Lord Reissue)
Keith Boyd 02.14.07
To listen to the recently reissued CD, "Gran Poder" by Orthodox is to fall in love with Heavy Metal all over again. Okay, maybe you don't even like Metal in the first place, never mind then, go download some Timberlake remixes and suck your thumb while Tivo-ing the next American Idol outtakes special. Is that jerky enough of me? Alright already, enjoy what you want to enjoy! We're all equals and all of that but this is Metal we're talking about here. Is there any other genre more despised than Heavy Metal? I can't tell you the number of times I've spoken with people about music (and really, other than Art and Love, is there really anything else to talk about?) and they've said, "I like all kinds of music, except Heavy Metal ." It's maybe gotten a little better in more recent years. Grunge opened up a lot of ears to the harsher and more extreme end of the sonic palette but in its wake all we got were the horrid "Nu-Metal" mega-bands like Limp Bizkit and Alien Ant Farm. Thankfully today's discerning headbanger has better options. Labels like Hydra Head, Peaceville, Battle Komand, Moribund Cult, Nuclear Blast and Rise Above have made sure of that. There are hundreds of great, original and pummeling Metal acts to enjoy and, for the most part, their music is available with a few keystrokes. One of the best labels out there, doing their utmost to foster and further the cause is Southern Lord. SL is run by Sunno))) mega-riffer Greg Anderson and let's put it this way, he knows what he's doing. The label raises the blacken battle flag of Metal early and often. Check their distribution page alone. It's chock full of the obscure and evil sounds of the Metal world. Besides distributing they also do the great service of re-issuing and that is the case with "Gran Poder" by Orthodox. Originally put out by Alone Records (a Spanish imprint) Southern Lord felt this disc should reach a wider audience and so they released it themselves. For good measure threw in a bonus track (a cover of Venom's "Genocide"). The results of all of this wrangling is yet one more reason you need to listen to Heavy Metal.
"Gran Poder" is a slow motion jackhammer that grinds a gap into your skull a mile wide. The antecedent is of course Black Sabbath. Isn't that the antecedent for everything? I mean without those primal, dope soaked grooves of the first handful of Sabbath records what would exist? Would the polar icecap have melted by now? Would WWIII have begun? Would water flow uphill? Thankfully we'll never have to know. All we do know is this, Black Sabbath is the touchstone for most Metal since them. Okay, now that we've got that out of the way let's boldly go forth and claim that Orthodox goes further. They've got the distortion. They've got the sustain. They've even got a groove or two (about 23 minutes in to be precise). Along with those requisites they bring a little avant-garde wailing and plenty of creepy atmospherics. One track even features piano ("Oficio de Tinieblas") for Godsakes (should that be Satansakes when written in a Metal review?). The sumtotal effect of this CD is pure devastation. The tarpit riffs ooze out like some surreally big earthworm and just when you think it can't get any heavier a second crush descends and picks up the pace. The final track, "El Lamento del cabron" is a good example of the whole effect. It winds up slow as prehistoric molasses and then whomps you upside the head with a power groove and riff that feel as inescapable and inevitable as an aftershock. Hails to Orthodox for adding their furious "Gran Poder" to the list of Heavy Metal classics! Hails to Southern Lord for spreading the good word! Now for all of you deprived metal-less souls out there a history lesson. Read and be converted! "One of us! One of us!" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heavy_metal_music