Review Summary: outside, the sun is turning into a red giant beginning.
From the steel mills of Pittsburgh, Orgone play a technical mix of death metal and grind, sort of like a heavier Between the Buried and Me without the autotune and with more intelligence. 2007's The Goliath is a concept album about, well, a Goliath, the physical manifestation of one man's frustrations with life and society. Sound pretentious? Definitely, but Orgone's unique brand of thinking man's metal is a breath of fresh air in the stagnating metal world; they're a band that's willing to resist the trend of slow-burning sludge metal that seems to have worn out its welcome before it really even got here.
Opening track "Lessons of Mesopotamia (The Century of Filth)" starts things off with a bang, with Orgone wasting no time in introducing the listener to their technical prowess and raspy growling. Within the breakneck guitar playing, Orgone's one weakness becomes readily apparent - sometimes the playing seems sloppy when it gets too fast. As impressive as the music and songwriting are, a few of the leads seem rushed and messy, but thankfully moments like that are few and far between on The Goliath. As "Lessons..." progresses to the halfway mark, the band slows down, with guitarist Stephen Jarrett playing a gorgeous progression and lead underneath the screaming before the song spirals back into brutality. It's probably the best representation of what Orgone as a whole are capable of - an impressive stew of original songwriting and instrumental talent.
Comparing them to other bands, the phrase that seems to best define Orgone is "a smarter version of [insert technical/brutal death/grind/whatever band here]." A mishmash of Cynic's quirks, Cryptopsy's guitar work, and Neurosis' grinding heaviness, it's surprising that more people haven't heard of Orgone. At around a half hour in length, The Goliath is a brief blast of metal that never overstays itself; Orgone have mastered the art of concise, interesting songs impressively within their brief history. These songs have the essentials and not much else, a welcome change within a music scene where bands seem to love adding a thousand unnecessary details into their songs. A few samples here and there, a few interesting drone-y atmospheric parts...other than that, Orgone play only what's necessary. They seem to realize that a band's strength should lie in the songs
, not ridiculous add-ons and novelties. "Vowelic Drone," a two and a half minute long atmospheric bridge is the closest Orgone get to any sort of metal trend, and even that song just adds positively to the feeling and mood of the album. "Bamboo Cannons (Loaded with Dust)" is the best example of their back-to-basics approach to metal, a short song filled with blazing technicality and brutal riffs; if this were 2003 Orgone could be criticized for clinging to trends, but in 2008 The Goliath seems fresh despite its throwback nature. It's a breath of air that's at once fresh and familiar, and the album is all the better for it.
When you think about it, Orgone's music seems like the perfect template for a slower, sludgier sound, and they even sort of get there on the last track, with its slower, meandering intro and pinch harmonic leads, but Orgone have instead chosen to speed things up when everyone else seems to be slowing (and tuning) things down. A mix of technicality, brutality, originality, and beauty this strong and intelligent should have the band poised for a breakthrough into the upper echelons of metal...if only things worked that way.