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Black Orchid Empire - 'Yugen' Album Review


1. My Favourite Stranger

2. Burn

3. Celebrity Summer

4. Wires

5. Blacklight Shadow

6. Pray To The Creature

7. Vertigo

8. Mouth Of The Wolf

9. Pins And Needles

10. Toru's Maze

11. Years

London band Black Orchid Empire are fresh from a season of gigs across Europe and, having signed to German label Long Branch Records, they are about to unleash their new album “Yugen”. Having garnered critical acclaim for their debut album “Archetype” it’ll be interesting to see if they suffer from DSA (Difficult Second Album) Syndrome.

“Yugen” is 11 tracks and 40 minutes and I think the band have acquitted themselves very well – there are chunky guitars, pounding drums and solid riffs aplenty and new single “Celebrity Summer” really sets the tone for the album. More importantly there’s an edge to the lyrics, which helps to elevate it above your standard Rock album.

As well as “Celebrity Summer” the stand out tracks for me were “Wires”, “Blacklight Shadow” and the simple, pared down “Vertigo” which offers both a change in pace and the confirmation that Paul Visser really can sing (with nice harmonies from Dave Ferguson). It’s a gorgeous little song and definitely going on my main playlist. Also listen out to “11 Years” which starts off slow and mellow then explodes at 1:21 into glorious guitars, drums and bass with Paul screaming the declaration “I’m still yours” with the passion of the recently (involuntarily) single man.

Being perfectly honest, when I saw the name of the band and the artwork I had dread feelings that this could be some sort of Emo tinged Rock that would irritate the hell out of me – especially when Dr. Google says Yugen is said to mean a “Profound mysterious sense of the beauty of the universe….and the sad beauty of human suffering” but looks were deceiving and it really is a great album and, whether this is why they chose the title or not, it is kind of fitting – the songs have meaning and I would say transcend the usual Rock album treatment of life’s ups and downs.

Review - Chris Watson

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