Orphan is a full album experience with a lot of grindstone but very little edge. As the single-tracked, full forty-minute album began, it felt well planned, smoothly executed and patient. Unfortunately for me it was. As the song settled, it became clear that Orphan’s raison d’etre is to be a spiritual chant (or Om) resonating under the beats of a progressive black metal album. It’s easy to admire Plague Organ and their raw commitment in Orphan to its function, but it feels robotic in its execution. Orphan is a forty minute, thriving blastbeat with intertwined soundscapes layered with a lot to hear on repeat listening. However, at a remarkably slow pace which again, feels mechanically necessary for it to function as a single song, it doesn’t feel like it has enough to keep an audience coming back.
If you do listen more than once, between the gasps of layered musical stings, you realize quickly that there is little to keep you hooked. The fans of a slow, driving black metal beat with a tight buildup are in for a good time but this hardly brings new fans to the genre and it doesn’t offer anything to a repeat listener. As a stage show, watching Plague Organs pull Orphan off would be spectacular. As an album though, once was enough. I won’t be revisiting it. I will say the notion of mixing the calming state and balancing act of inner peace and meditation to a metal album is entirely admirable and adventurous, a trait not to be ignored in the music industry. It just turns out that in practice and done with exquisite execution you still end up spending forty minutes with no meaningfulness added to your life. The antithesis, I might add, of what meditation is.
Written by Aj Young
*Edited by Dominic Abate