Review from The Metal Observer

Posted by Hypnotic Dirge Records on Friday, April 28, 2023 Under: English
From: The Metal Observer
April 28, 2023
Original Link

Here to remind us of a few nice concepts like the Aurora Australis (Southern lights) and the word “spleen”, Orphans Of Dusk may also be reminding us of their own existence, since nearly 9 years have whiled away after their debut EP Revenant waited patiently for a follow-up. That’s a long time in anyone’s book, but when your most important influences come from the early ‘90s and beyond, it may not matter so much to these guys. Definitely the most potent shadow hanging over Spleen is Type O Negative, and it begs the question of just how many bands actually sound like the gothic metal idols. I can’t count a great deal. Orphans Of Dusk avoid the Americans’ hardcore period, but keep the droning group vocals at times, as well as maintaining the sonic punch of dual keyboard and guitar from October Rust at key points of this 9 song release, not to mention a very convincing use of deep croaking vocals from Chris G in addition to some harsh growls. That mix just about hangs the trio out over death doom territory, but those of you regularly purchasing black no.1 dye can rest assured that no death metal pacing oppresses the gradual Spleen.

I don’t want to single this out as worship of one specific band however, because Orphans Of Dusk bring along enough of their own tools while adopting the Type O tropes. Baritone vocals have always had a place in gothic music since way back in the early ‘80s, so pairing them with clean guitars at moments like the slow burn commencement of “Victim of a Vampire” really brings us round to the roots of the style, even if a heavy drum presence and generally powerful production juxtapose that with a very modern feel. Indeed, at other moments over the course of 55 minutes, I feel instead that Spleen represents a lush and open version of the terse acts from which they draw influence, swelling up into broad crescendos and unusual diversions, as heard on bonus cut “A Spell of Bad Luck” and its effect-charmed solo. It’s also clear that this trio revere the density of mournful doom acts like Swallow The Sun and Saturnus, crushing down heavily with the slow revelatory rhythm of “Wasted Hero” and allowing Jonas Schütz on guest drums to lay down some pretty destructive beats at the same time.

However, Spleen vents most of its aggression through the surprise conflicts of the drumming and vocals, relegating guitar to a melodic or rhythmic role for the best part of an hour. The toughened opening of the album relents somewhat as the long pair of “Aurora Australis” and “Spleen” get underway, taking in atmospheric keys in the former and some upbeat rhythms in the latter. The keys offer the most detailed features to Orphan Of Dusk’s songs, sometimes joining the vocals to give the impression of a horde of singers, sometimes highlighting different areas of the mix to present a haunting emptiness. At the tougher moments of “Aurora Australis”, that coalesces to remind me of Paradise Lost in the 2010s, especially as the rallying guitar melody of the chorus touches on Gregor Mackintosh’s style. On the other hand, the title track occasionally hits gothic rock territory, opening up the sonic realm from a relatively claustrophobic one to a more spacious feel as yawning vocals, dazzling organ, and a sense of emotional release combine to uplifting effect.

Inclination towards such a moody album may vary from listener to listener, with some metal fans missing pronounced riffs or energetic sections, while others will be drawn into the passionate delivery and slow-build techniques. I can personally tune into this to an extent, but I’m also mindful that Orphans Of Dusk offer little in the way of instrumental shifts to mark out particular passages, perhaps dwelling too strongly on dirge-like atmosphere during the longest tracks of 8 or 9 minutes. Interestingly, I find myself more involved during the sparser sections – either in mid-song hushes or the guitar solo interlude “Magic Keys” – which makes me wonder if Spleen might have been better off reducing the bulk at times, since the wall of sound moments become an obvious go-to by halfway through the album. That’s not a serious detriment when only 6 or 7 full songs fill up the bulk of the listen, but it does leave little time for nudging the listener out of their reverie, as “Falling Star” achieves quite savagely in its mammoth verses and floating bridge. Spleen can be called a very solid effort in most respects, but I anticipate it making some listeners much happier than others.

Rating: 7.5/10
Reviewed by: Edmund Morton

In : English 

Tags: "orphans of dusk" "orphans of dusk spleen" "orphans of dusk 2023" "orphans of dusk new album" "type o negative" "woods of ypres" 

 Released: April 28, 2023
Genre: Gothic Doom Metal