Black Orchid Empire – 'Semaphore' Album Review
1. Emissaries 2. Singularity 3. Natural Selection 4. Motorcade 5. Red Waves 6. Heiliopause 7. Winter Keeps Us Warm 8. Dust 9. Faces 10 Death From Above 11 Evergreen 12 Monolith 13 Crash
Black Orchid Empire’s 'Semaphore' waves to us from a mountain of stacked amp fliers and drum kits. The London based three piece have made an album that supports our cultural expectation of loud and noisy power trios. There is no two ways about it, this album is big, supermassive even. But it is also gentle, dainty and translucent in specific areas. It has big ideas and challenges our view of the world.
The first two tracks hit us like bulldozer but it is ‘Natural Selection’ that takes us down the Biffy Clyro runway, with it’s jiggered staccato and tight beats. The song takes the listener up and down and drops into a sugar coated chorus. This song demonstrates BOE’s ability to write a Pop hit. ‘Motorcade’ differs slightly. In this we are treated an interpretation of Tool and all things Maynard related. ‘I am the monster in your motorcade’ howls Paul Visser, his voice emanating from a dark place whilst Dave Ferguson (bass) rumbles away.
‘Red Waves’ picks up the pace. Initially coming off almost Papa Roach as it starts to stretch out like a metallic Muse. The long drawn out snare rolls ‘rollercoaster’ you up and down, keeping you on your toes. ‘Winter Keeps Us Warm’ is quite a different beast. This song picks up where Fightstar’s Be Human left off. At times Visser’s vocals emulate the great Simon Neil (Biffy Clyro). This doesn’t last for long though as the chorus kicks in with a Gladiatorial like, festival sized vocal hook. Don Bronco would kill for such a chant. Watch out lads.
‘Faces’ sums up this record more than any other track. This tune clearly demonstrates drummer, Billy Freedom’s, tight legwork. In my opinion, the bands strongest influence, Deftones, comes off the most in this track. You can hear Steph Carpenters guitar work and Abe Cunningham’s chops at play. But this isn’t emulation, it is a call-back to their peers and mentors. Musically, its full of swagger and shuffle, but mechanical and machine like. And it is on that particular point that I wish to state where this record sits.
Indeed, one could easily place this record somewhere between noughties Nu-Metal and Post Hardcore. But this record isn’t about that, it’s not a tribute nor is it nostalgic. This record informs us of trans-humanism, singularity and the idea of uploading one’s mind. Important subjects that need addressing and what better way to do so than through art. This places 'Semaphore' in the front row, a record ready to take the listener to the next level.
Website - www.blackorchidempire.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/blackorchidempire/
Review - Lewis McWilliam