Friday, March 15, 2013

Album Review: Orphans - Pack Mentality

Album Rating: B
There seems to be a growing trend within hardcore music, and it’s a most welcome trend too. An increasing number of bands are showcasing their ambition by moving away from the short sharp shocks associated with older hardcore outfits, in favour of atmospheric instrumental passages and drawling harsh vocals. This not only results in a broadening of horizons but a fleshing out of material, a definite positive for fans of hardcore who feel frustrated by the abrupt endings and at times half-baked ideas which they’d rather see built upon. Naturally there are bands still prevalent within the genre who are delivering these bite-sized packages of brutality as is their fundamental popularity, but the likes of Circle Takes the Square and Rinoa are challenging the status quo in recent years with stunning releases.

Formed in 2011 in Colorado, Orphans are the latest band to follow this increasingly well travelled road. Rather than following the blueprint exactly however, they’re taking things one step further than their contemporaries. On Pack Mentality Orphans condense typically expansive instrumental sections and place them within a modern hardcore setting, and the songs succeed in never feeling claustrophobic in their readiness to be succinct. This formula is most evident and successful on “Dark Satanic Mills” and EP closer “White Guilt." The former allows for a peaceful fading outro - a technique rarely utilized in hardcore music, whilst the latter includes spoken word passages similar to those used by Maths, which break up the intensity surrounding them.

However, when Orphans aim for a more straight forward hardcore sound and do their best Defeater impression, they bring both the tenacity and the angst to pull it off with relative ease. “Bengals” sees them begin with and maintain a breakneck pace, and although they don’t toy with dynamics or indulge in their experimental fancies it isn't to the song's detriment, as the commanding riffs and assured drumming do more than enough to ensure it doesn't feel extrinsic. With Pack Mentality, Orphans show that they aren't content to just imitate their influences, and they've crammed a lot of ideas into a surprisingly small package - ideas which would likely prosper on a full length release in the future.

Free at their Bandcamp

Track List:

  1. Blood of the Father
  2. Dark Satanic Mills
  3. Bengals
  4. White Guilt

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