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Album Review

Orthodox “Axis” [Alone Records]

atavist   1/22/2023   A Library

album artwork for Axis by Orthodox

A quintessential release from these old Spanish doom masters, conjured in 2015. It has a bit of many elements that I think of when I think of the Orthodox sound. There are the horns that open Cara A—minimalist, distilled structures, their shadows dancing in the beam of a flashlight. This passage leads to Crown for a Mole, a straight-ahead drum+bass pummeling with Marco Serrato’s signature vocal style, always run through a vibrato-like effects pedal. The bass starts riffing around, almost improvisationally while the drums whirl; what could possibly go wrong? (Don’t answer that question.) Usually a power trio, this album was captured during a four-year period without their main guitarist, leaving a rhythm section with extensive experience in free improvisation and extreme jazz variants collaborating with a cast of reed, horn, and percussion players. It’s interesting that a 2017 release of theirs, Supreme, actually got filed in our Jazz Library. I think the doom metal elements in Axis tip it firmly into A Library territory, though the weirded out jazz influence persists. Once you’ve entered the halls of Medea, traipse through its dusty colonnades, feel the earth quaking below. There are simply gorgeous textures here, provided by Carlos Pérez’s guitar work. Orthodox are known to explore themes rooted in Mediterranean folklore in their lyrics. Contrast the European martial lilt in Axis/Equinox to the double bass drifting down a river through the forest in ¡Io, Sabacio, Io, Io!, with folk vocal stylings of Xavier Castroviejo. Canícula blasts out the speakers one last time before the final track acts as a sort of reprise, a return to the theme that launched the journey, turning on its axis. 

—Atavist

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