On Thorns I Lay

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Orama

On Thorns I Lay - Orama ©1997 Holy Records
1. Alantis I.
2. The Song Of The Sea
3. Oceans
4. In Heaven's Island
5. Alantis II.
6. Alantis III.
7. If I Could Fly
8. Aura
9. The Blue Dream

A cornerstone in the unofficial sub genre I like to call Beach Metal (others include Cynic's Focus, Atheist's Elements and the whole early Septic Flesh catalog), Orama is an album that literally sounds like it was recorded in the depths of the Mediterranean and re-mastered onshore to sound intelligible. From a lyrical standpoint, the album concerns itself, not un-provocatively, with the doom of Alantis and other other related aquatic themes. This is one album where the aesthetic goals, production values, and the music itself truly come together and create a singular experience; the lyrics are so strongly meshed with the music itself that they actually become an important component in comprehending the overall sound and atmosphere of the album. With Orama you get the whole package.

Superficially the album is basically Greek death metal with a very strong sense of atmosphere - their sound is not entirely unlike Mystic Places at Dawn era Septic Flesh. The rhythm section is of the chugging variety, with fairly simple muted chord progressions and frequent pulls and slides. The tempo pickups are vintage Septic Flesh, with catchy leads soaring over charging snare beats and subtle shifts in the bass line and rhythm guitar. The vocals are low, often unintelligible growls (again inviting comparisons with Septic Flesh) but are frequently delivered with smooth, poppy female vocals (the pop element is essential to the beach metal aesthetic). The metal is washed over in oriental scales, warm synth textures and saxophone effects- all of which set the band apart from their Greek brethren.

As you can probably tell, the music is really quite simple, driven by low-end riffs, straightforward (but proficient) percussion, constant double bass rolls and fuzzy keys. Clearly, these components alone could not have propelled the album into the classic status it maintains. The two things that really place the album in its own corner are the production values and the brilliantly inspired guitar leads. The production sounds muffled, ambiguous and thick- in a word, aquatic. The music seems to waver beneath the waves: beautiful, otherworldly, amorphous. Everything seems filtered through shimmering layers of green and blue. The keyboards add a golden luster in the murk, like rays of sunlight penetrating the stark underwater darkness. The lead guitar (through effects and loose, organic playing) sounds as though it's literally floating on the surface of the sea, lazily floating on the murk below.

Orama, despite its heaviness and requisite death metal crunch, is really quite relaxing. The sea-faring atmosphere tends to soothe the listener, immediately invoking a relaxed state. I can't envision someone moshing or headbanging to this music - maybe relaxing with a drink on beach or back floating in a swimming pool - that I could imagine. In fact, I think a swim might just be in order. I'll grab a towel, some sun lotion, a portable CD player, and my copy of Orama. Yeah, that seems about right.

Review by James Slone

Review date: 05/2000

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Future Narcotic

On Thorns I Lay - Future Narcotic ©2000 Holy Records
1. Infinity
2. Future Narcotic
3. The Threat Of Seduction
4. Feed Her Lust
5. Love Can Be A Wave
6. Ethereal Blue
7. Heaven's Passager
8. Desire
9. Back To That Enigma
10. The K Song

Having heard and read some very positive reviews for On Thorns I Lay, I was very excited to have finally traded for one of their releases. Unfortunately, the excitement did not last long upon initial listens to Future Narcotic and this CD has languished away on my CD shelves ever since. While there is nothing inherently wrong with the album, it lacks a deeper sense of commitment to their sound and ability, trading profound music away for a neo-goth sound that never quite settles into place. The music is generally rather atmospheric and the band utilizes male and female vocals. The vocals of Claudia J. are somewhat tedious in her strained vocal inflections while Stefanos K.'s contributions are pedestrian. Piano and keyboards are used fairly liberally throughout, as well as quite a bit of viola action. What falls apart is that the songwriting never bothers to captivate the listener. These songs are backdrops to a bored afternoon, at best. Sitting through this album is a rather arduous endeavor. None of the tracks stir up any emotion within the listener and at the end of that that's the death knell for my interest in Future Narcotic. This album is more of a Present Sedative.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2001

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