01. Dar Al-Harb
05. Red Eye
06. Cargo 200
07. Thorn Farmer
08. Embers, Blood And Treasure
09. I Accept Your Last Wish
12. The Last Red Shoulder
[Hydra Head Records]
I’ve been told many times how grindcore is about saying as much as you possibly can in the shortest time possible. In that case, time is very precious in the world of Gridlink as Orphan brings their total discography running time to a mere 24 minutes. To put that more into perspective; Slayer‘s Reign In Blood clocks in at 29 minutes and even World Extermination by Insect Warfare, the more modern classic, hits 22 minutes. So it seems strange that the majority of the songs on Orphan waste their time with a count in, I mean it’s not the most obvious feature of modern grindcore so it does stick out a little bit.
However, it does serve two very good purposes. It’s quite easy to let this whole album slip you by with gaining any discernible knowledge of specific tracks, if you blink you will probably miss it, so having those distinct stick clicks breaks the album more into a collection of songs rather than one long piece. More importantly, it gives off a distinct sense that Gridlink is still a band in the traditional sense. I have no idea how Orphan was recorded but it genuinely sounds like it was recorded with everyone in the same room, whether it’s the production or the atmosphere the songs give off, I couldn’t tell you. But what I can say is that Orphan is the sound of a band who are very much alive, very cohesive and very much on top of their game.
There are no real suprises here, Orphan is exactly how you would expect it to sound. As derogatory as it may sound, this is essentially Amber Gray 2.0 but it’s not a rehash – it’s an all round improvement. Tracks like ‘Red Eye‘, ‘Scopedog‘ and opener ‘Dar Al-Harb‘ are reminiscent of tracks like ‘3 Miles Below Sea Level‘ in that, while it’s a lightspeed trek through barbed guitar leads and relentless drumming, it’s strangely memorable. Obviously you’d never catch yourself humming these tunes whilst waiting at the bus stop, but this probably some of the most infectious grind this side of Rotten Sound and Pig Destroyer. On the flip side, there are tracks that most definitely concern themselves entirely with intensity; the chaotic ‘I Accept Your Last Wish‘, the blunt forced attack of ‘Deliverables‘ and even the 7 second powerhouse that is ‘Cargo 200‘.
The only real changes I can find are in the vocals and the guitar lines and even they’re only slight. Jon Chang is probably quite well known for his high-pitched screech, he utilised it in Discordance Axis famously, but on Orphan he experiments a little more with much lower vocals and even a grim, raspy, black metal style in ‘Deliverables‘ . I was starting to suspect that these were done as a guest appearance or even back up vocals as I’m more used to his usual monotone rhythmic scream but I can’t find any details on it. The guitars, on the other hand, take on a more melodic style throughout the album, which isn’t leaps and bounds away from where they started but is still noticable. Guitarists Takasumi Matsubara (also of Mortalized and Hayaino Daisuki) and Steve Procopio (ex-Human Remains) make a formidible sound together and create some of the most memorable points of Orphan.
I could go on, Orphan is a great album. Fans of grind will love it, fans of extreme music in general will find something here to at least appreciate and fans of Gridlink will clamour and proclaim Jon Chang as the second coming. If you are none of these, at least try it, this is probably the most important event in grindcore of 2011 – barring a new Napalm Death release. But how much emphasis can you put on an album that lasts roughly the same amount time as any Opeth song. Well most of the time I’d rather listen Orphan three times over than put on a different record and I think that’s a testament to just how damn good this album is.
Gridlink’s Orphan gets…