Gorod – The Orb Review

Gorod - The Orb

Gorod’s assignment with The Orb is to figure out how to follow up 2018’s magnificent Æthra. This album’s predecessor, which followed on a string of excellent releases, is among the best albums that I have ever underrated. It was a complete artistic package, defined not only by its virtuosity and creativity, but also by newfound diversity and killer art. Each track is a masterclass in riffing, complemented by diverse compositions and increasingly adventurous vocals. Æthra brought with it change and continuing on this trajectory, The Orb is the band’s first fully independent release. And that raises the hackneyed, obvious question: is all this change good, actually?1

Diversity is what makes The Orb special.2 Clocking at 39 minutes and eight songs (sans The Doors cover), it’s a compact package. And yet, there’s something surprising in nearly every song, be it simple virtuosity or unexpected styles. While the album undeniably features Gorod’s sound—speedy tech death with a dueling guitars, a rhythm section with an insanely talented drummer (Karol Diers) and bassist (Benoit Claus) who crush anyone who stands in their way—each album adds in new wrinkles. Æthra featured comps like Behemoth and Gojira, while “The Orb” evokes The Ocean Collective (see also “Savitri”). And pacing helps The Orb to feel dynamic and powerful, even when riffs fly by at a million miles a minute. This allows Gorod—even in its most intense moments—to breathe life into the compositions through diversity like the clean tapping in “We Are the Sun Gods” (omfg), or the unexpected dose of Opeth’s signature swing (“Savitri,” “Waltz of Shadows”).

But The Orb will be remembered for its guitars. Even more profoundly than its predecessor, guitarists Pascal and Alberny work in lock-step to drop blistering licks from the first second. There’s a playful feel to the guitar work on The Orb that evokes—in spirit, if not stylistically—the brilliant give and take of Slash and Izzy on Appetite for Destruction.3 Every twist has a turn and every call has a response (see: “Victory,” “Waltz of Shadows”). Panned to what feels like a perfect Left-Right balance, fevered tapping riffs (“We Are the Sun Gods”) evoke Anata’s Under a Stone with No Inscription or give way to brutal groove (“Chrematheism”). Soulful solos (“Savitri”) feel minimalist when juxtaposed with guitar orchestras at the end of “Breeding Silence.” But nearly every moment of the album is defined by outstanding—and perfectly balanced—guitars.

Gorod - The Orb photoshoot

Brilliant guitars alone do not a great record make. From Æthra to The Orb, the pride of Bordeaux has developed an evocative style capable of donning different mantles while uniting them in Gorod’s particular idiom. As the band becomes more progressive, its sound becomes increasingly unique. This is tied together and complemented by vocalist Julien Deyres’ diversification of stylistic choices. He shows a deft feel for composition, making his hardcore screams and talky cleans (“The Orb”), melodic-ish screaming (“Savitri”), blackened screams (“Chrematheism”), and even his ‘standard’ mid-tone growls, fit wherever they’re necessary. His voice ties the bow and works like a through line along with the band’s stylistic omnivorousness (omnivorocity?) and a compositional voice made of frantic energy and gravitas.

Gorod has followed excellence with greatness on The Orb. This album flows so well and has so many excellent moments that it’s difficult to not sound like an overhyped fanboy. But there is little doubt in my mind that many Angry Metal Guys—including myself—will be circling back around to The Orb at the end of the year. The album drips with Gorod’s unique personality and has so few flaws that it feels almost petty to point them out. And maybe this isn’t change at all. Maybe this is just Gorod doing its thing the way it always has done and that’s something we should feel grateful to witness.

Rating: Great!
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kB/s CBR mp3
Label: Self-released
Websites: gorodmetal.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/gorodofficial
Released Worldwide: March 10th, 2023

Show 3 footnotes

  1. Thank the seasonal flu for the lateness of this review and the general mediocrity and hackishness of this intro to one of my most anticipated records of the year.
  2. So, yes, apparently.
  3. Break out the cans and listen to Appetite for Destruction for the guitars. It’s brilliant.
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