Orients spits in the face of moment-to-moment melodies and dynamism; it’s an album in the complete sense, where the overall effect is far more important. Metal as a genre is generally best depicted as grabbing and shaking its listener. Witxes, by contrast, are far more subtle and muted, yet still succeed in dominating their listeners’ attention. In fact, there is plenty of metal out there with noisy riffs and shrieked vocals which is far worse at being demanding which is testament to Witxes‘ ability to do a lot with a little. The takeaway which I want to impress on you, dear reader, is that while Orients is largely calm, it is also truly impactful even if there are no riffs, solos, or harsh vocals roaring in your ear.
Though the album comprises eight tracks over forty minutes, I better understood it when I had broken it down into five composite passages. The openers “Distractions” and “Destructions” boast a particularly cosmic tone, with clean but cold synths in the most sparsely populated soundscapes. The passage from “Rogues” through “Disruptions” represents what I interpret as a pejorative comment on mechanical modernity, featuring a unsettling mood through frequent glitch effects, distant samples of traffic, cash registers, and clashing metal. “Interventions” can be considered as the interlude, while “Incarnations” may be the most important singular track on Orients for its narrative. It opens after the long sleep on “Interventions” with the mechanical feel of the second passage but passes into a deeply beautiful second half which recalls the cosmic swell of the opening tracks; this imposes a strong sense of cohesion over the other thirty-five minutes. Lastly, “Clairvoyants” concludes things with the longest, most self-contained musical expanse, culminating in a saxophone-based wall of sound.
Though I object to track-by-track reviews generally, the purpose of outlining this break-down of tracks is to demonstrate the intensely evocative, narrative-driven core of Orients. The first, second, and fifth passages begin in medias res, which encourages the impression that Orients is but a sliver of a wider picture, or an idea, than a simple collection of songs. The scope was narrowed on this particular forty minutes but they exist as part of something grander. This may sound pretentious but the fact that this impression hit me indicates the power generated here by Witxes.
I will conclude on this note: what sort of music features on Orients? I have avoided overtly addressing this question as it is tough to easily describe, and as already mentioned, the effect it has regardless is profound. I suppose somewhere between ambient, electronica, and synthwave may give a satisfactory answer formally but I ask that you listen with an open mind as I think each listener will hear something different. It is assuredly not metal but is dark and unsettling in places, residing not too far from how synths and ambiance may be used by some black metal bands. That’s my sales pitch to a site of metalheads and I hope you take Witxes up on it.
Tracks to Check Out: It’s a cohesive whole, man.1