Orphanage

Picture of Orphanage

Oblivion

Orphanage - Oblivion ©1995 DSFA
1. Chameleon
2. Weltschmerz
3. The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
4. In the Garden of Eden
5. Journey Into the Unknown
6. Druid
7. Veils of Blood
8. Sea of Dreams
9. The Collector
10. Victim of Fear

The mid 90s were a fairly fertile time for heavy metal in Europe, particularly with some of the new variations and strains that emerged during that time period. Death metal had blossomed during the first half of the decade and black metal was just beginning to be noticed outside its particular level of hell. Meanwhile, bands such as Tiamat were introducing atmospheric touches to their brand of death metal. Orphanage, a Dutch band, appeared as one of the early "beauty and the beast" bands that featured a gruff death metal vocalist alongside more serene female singing as well as a somewhat wider songwriting approach than merely standard death metal. However, it should be noted that despite the band's willingness to experiment and push the envelope a bit, Oblivion is a somewhat lackluster debut which absolutely does not stand out when heard years later.

Oblivion features good production and sound quality, but as with so many bands, Orphanage's songwriting isn't particularly noteworthy. The band seems as though they knew what elements they wanted to hear in their music, but weren't skilled at crafting them into an impressive song. One gets the impression that in 1995, upon the album's release, the novelty of their approach might have been part of their appeal, but the album doesn't age all that well. There's a few interesting segments here and there, but very little truly stands out in the course of the album's duration.

I'd imagine most people who may have liked Orphanage's approach back in the day probably don't drag this one out for many listens. Aside from a slightly different approach, little about Oblivion helps it escape the vortex of mediocre heavy metal.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/2010

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By Time Alone

Orphanage - By Time Alone ©1996 DFSR
1. At The Mountains Of Madness
2. Five Crystals
3. The Dark Side
4. Deceiver
5. Cliffs Of Moher
6. By Time Alone
7. Ancient Rhymes
8. Odyssey
9. Requiem
10. Leafless
11. Deliverance
12. The Crumbling

Completely engulfed in the Prego philosophy of musical styles ("it's in there"), Holland's Orphanage are a band capable of many onslaughts that will render you helpless. They will either crush you like a pack of angry elephants or bore you into submission. Fortunately for you there is a lot more crushing going on rather than boring. The band features three vocal styles: George Oosthoek's grunting and studio processed screams, Guus Eiken's clean somber singing, and Rosan van der Aa's soprano. The majority of the vocals are dominated by Oosthoek's not-too-demonic voice while still leaving room for some good harmonies. Meanwhile, the band rumbles along at a half decent tempo, never getting too crazy. At the same time the slower numbers move like Los Angeles traffic during rush hour. Lex Vogelaar's guitar playing is an interesting usage; it acts more as a rhythm barrage. This can be heard most effectively on the excellent first two tracks, "At the mountains of madness" and the somewhat exotic "Five Crystals". Unfortunately after this great start the album lumbers along with what amounts to filler material. However, the strengths of this album show that there are some interesting times down the line with this fabulously talented band. Their next onslaught will more than likely be lethal.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/1998

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Inside

Orphanage - Inside ©2000 Nuclear Blast
1. Inside
2. The Stain Remains
3. Grip
4. Twisted Games
5. Pain
6. Deal With The Real
7. Behold
8. Weakness Of Flesh
9. Kick
10. Drag You Down
11. From The Cradle To The Grave

Orphanage is still at it. Fortunately they've taken the best of what they did on By Time Alone and refined it for Inside. Their sound from their previous release is completely and fully intact and quite possibly the band has improved their songwriting hand over fist this time around. By Time Alone, by my count, had three or four really good songs and a lot of tunes that just lingered around like underage kids outside a liquor store. Inside, however, shooshes those kids away and is a more fulfilling album overall.

The band's core sound is primarily unchanged since their last record. Revolving around the extremely thick and tough guitar riffs of Lex Vogelaar and the ugly death grunting of George Oosthoek, Orphanage has a solid identity. Everything else the band does is built around those two things. Each of the songs is rhythmic and has a groove, with things like keyboards or backing female and male vocals intertwine around the grunts. The band has a good sense of underscoring the heaviness of the guitar with intelligent usage of their keyboards. Some of the material comes off a bit amusing, especially when Oosthoek informs the listener, "I'll kick your fucking ass" in "Kick". Occasionally the thick Dutch accents of the clean vocalists can be heard.

Orphanage's Inside should be of note for anyone who liked By Time Alone and hoped the band would grow in their songwriting skills. Their death metal elements might be a turn off for some, but the heavy grooviness and the interesting usage of vocals throughout make this a pretty solid release for the band.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 12/2000

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