Friday, January 27, 2012

Album Review: Red Orchid - Blood Vessels & Marshmallows

Album Rating: C+
Sanmeet Sidhu is the driving force behind Red Orchid - an experimental band, if anything. Red Orchid works on ever expanding their genre base, drawing influences from everything to progressive rock to post-rock, and stopping at quite a few good (and a few not so good) places along the way. The full-length debut fully shows each genre Sidhu borrows ideas from. However, the way he goes about it is both the best and worst part of the album. Although a creative idea to mash each of one's favorite genres into a unique musical sound, there's too much blending of ideas into Blood Vessels & Marshmallows, to the point of muddling the core of the album into too many different strains to follow.

The opener on the album is the eponymous track on the album, and it sounds like the bastard child of Mastodon and Steven Wilson, with the added stale flavor of some synthesized strings towards the end. The actual song isn't that bad: it opens with some really interesting synth work, but that quickly fades into a single guitar, throwing out a decent but repetitive riff. Once the drums start, though, the riff tries to embody a psychedelic feel to the point of headache inducing, like "Blood Mountain" restricted to the very basic, least-metal riff possible. Part of the saving grace of this song is Tom Dupree's technical perfection on drums, which at least helps the song flow along smoothly. Once the song's distorted jam hits a stop, with a reverbed guitar gently fading into those flat-sounding strings, the song hits a gentle respite, but sadly tries to force itself onto the listener for slightly too long, needing a fadeout probably thirty seconds or so before the song itself actually ends.

The seventh track on the album, "White Mist, Black Widow" is one of about half of the tracks that helps salvage this album to the point of where it stands review here on Muzik Dizcovery. The beautiful effects of this post-metal ballad bring it to soar above other tracks embodying a halfway effort of psychedelia and metal, with a fantastically heavy jam towards the middle, synths blazing and adding a colorful haze of individuality over a grinding breakdown. Here, Sidhu and Dupree have a perfect chemistry on their instruments, the progressive time being one of the most forefront characteristics of this tune, and really bringing out some amazing qualities of the track. It's a perfect blend of post-metal and prog, the guitar tones line up so that it feels oppressive but also airy at the same time, and all of these great qualities comprise a remarkable tune that is to be desired for the first couple of tracks on the album.

The first half of this album was really, really not my cup of tea. The larger composition of psychedelic is clearly not my favorite, and it happens to show up quite a lot on the first five or so tracks. However, once "Bitter Hands", the sixth track, started playing, I was enthralled. I had just about given up on the album, and it had brought new life to my listen. The next thing I knew, the album was over, and I had nearly forgiven all that had been wrought of the first half. In short, the genre-experimentation had been fantastic towards the end, but the beginning felt dizzying, unrefined, and lackluster. There definitely is some fantastic music on this CD, though, which is why I haven't written it off completely. If you're very open minded about music, I would absolutely recommend this - it's probably my own personal taste that causes me to abhor the certain blend of chords and changes that Sidhu so dearly embraces within the first few tracks. All in all, though, an interesting work to say the least. Maybe we'll see better from Red Orchid in the future.

You can actually download Blood Vessels & Marshmallows for free on Red Orchid's Facebook.

Track Listing:

1) Blood Vessels & Marshmallows
2) Release
3) Glass Woven Yarn
4) Silent Train
5) Astronomicon
6) Bitter Hands
7) White Mist, Black Widow
8) Drown With Me
9) Flabbergast Butterfly
10) Let Go; Jenni

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