ORCHID "The Mouths of Madness"

KADAVAR "Abra Kadavar"

By Dr. Abner Mality

Nuclear Blast can smell a trend as well as anybody, so they've been on a binge signing tons of 70's retro rockers, including these two buzz bands. The onslaught of 70's revivalists is getting creepier and creepier, because the bands seem to not even be trying to bring anything new to the game or spice up their influences with anything different.

Orchid is a prime offender. I have never heard a band do such a bald-faced knockoff of early Black Sabbath. In many cases, they take an old Sabbath tune and just tweak the riffing a little bit so it's not a complete clone. Yet the influences are so obvious that Helen Keller could hear them loud and clear. There is a straight line link between specific Sabbath songs and tunes from Orchid's new album "The Mouths of Madness".  "Paranoid" and "Symptoms of the Universe" combine to form "Wizard of War", "Warning" becomes "Loving Hand of God", "Into the Void" turns into "Silent One", "After Forever" is "Leaving It All Behind".  This can be done for every song here. Ordinarily, this blatant theft would arouse my ire, but the dilemma is, Orchid do the Sabbath-stealing so damn good. "The Mouths of Madness" is a truly entertaining album to listen to and the songs all rock hard with an uncanny resemblance to prime Sabbath of old. The vocals of Theo Mindell have an Ozzy touch without complete mimicking him...his singing definitely adds some fire to this record. So my brain says Orchid is nothing but a bunch of grave robbers, while my heart says this is the best Sabbath record since "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" and will almost certainly be better than the Sabs' own comeback "13" later this year.

Kadavar is a bit of different proposition, as they are not sheer Sabbath clones. They take a broader influence from early 70's hard rock in general. Stuff like Free, T-Rex, Argent, Deep Purple and Hawkwind can be heard in the groovy grooves of "Abra Kadavar". There is a Cream-like rawness and magic to the sound these 3 Swedes create. It sounds really spontaneous and there's a lot of pace and energy to songs like "Doomsday Machine", "Liquid Dreams" and "Fire". The vocals are a kind of flat shout that won't threaten Ian Gillen or Rob Halford but manage to match the music. It's actually another extremely entertaining album to listen to that doesn't wear out its welcome, but Jesus Christ, is it absolutely necessary to eliminate everything done after 1973 in your sound? This is true time warp music yet again it has the feel of trying to imitate something of an age gone by. Kadavar does it better than just about anybody, but will this kind of nostalgia trip be good for more than an album or two?

Guess Nuclear Blast has Scorpion Child waiting in the wings after this. Better get a new bulb for my black light and shine up the mood ring...