Review Summary: "You tell me that passion's passé...."
I’ve been pondering a lot about life as of late. How it all comes together, and what my part in everything that is life, truly is. Well it’s no surprise that when I think deeply upon these matters, I also think deeply about music. You see, music is such a big part of my life and who I am. Ergo, the two are intertwined. Yet the idea of what music is has been challenged by me recently. How and what music can be both artistically and conceptually is been a though in my mind. That is because I have recently acquired the discography to legendary emotional hardcore band, Orchid.
And truly, it’s not difficult to see why Orchid challenge my preconceptions. The music is anything like what I have heard. It’s messy, disorganized, and a blur of sounds and noises, strewn together in a cacophonous heap. This very statement argues Orchid’s musical validity. How can this actually exist in the same realm as other works of musical art? How can this even be deemed as art to begin with? While still in existence, Orchid had released three true albums. The first two albums, while fantastic, were mere stepping stones in a path to their final release: “Gatefold.”
To answer the questioned posed about Orchid’s musical and artistic relevance, one should simply look at “Gatefold.” “Gatefold” is a true behemoth of an album, and encompasses everything that was Orchid. It was a creative milestone, marking how far the genre had come, and what the future would hold. Yet it would be doing a disservice to fence the band into a genre. “Gatefold” is an achievement of music in general. While it shouldn’t be held up against music in a historical sense, the album was a defining moment in the hardcore scene. The pure veracity, combined with the passion and emotion of the exuberant youth of Orchid, is something truly profound.
While it is easy to speak in purple prose and lofty sentences, it doesn’t do much in the way of truly describing “Gatefold.” Interestingly, “Gatefold” isn’t even the album’s title. The album is simple entitled “Orchid,” but the packaging it is in has allowed it to be known by it’s current name. However, it is not as if Orchid can contend the name of the album, because the band shortly dissolved after it’s release., which is both a shame and a blessing. While it is always upsetting when a band full of promise calls it quits, “Gatefold” is helped out by it’s enigmatic aura. Like other influential bands before them, Orchid released their magnum opus and swan song all in one.
“Gatefold” is such an indelible success because of the raw emotion and feeling contained within. While less raw and abrasive than their two previous releases, the album is simply a perfection of everything that band worked towards. It’s polished to a sheen, and feels much less spontaneous, and more thoroughly planned out. The spontaneous nature of Orchid had always been a draw for me. The brash explosion of passion that seemed to erupt and fall into place perfectly was glorious. However, the meticulous dissecting and thorough planning heard on “Gatefold” is just as, if not more, arresting than anything they had done prior. It sounds like a maturation of sorts, and it feels as if the band is completely comfortable with themselves and their music.
The song selection and set up is truly one of the album’s defining qualities. Yeah, great songs make a great album right? In a sense, yes. However, how the album flows, and how the songs relate to one another makes a great album truly outstanding. From beginning to end, “Gatefold” is a treat. There is not a skip-worthy song on the entire record, and a full run through of the album really displays the genius of the whole thing. From the duo parts of “Amherst Pandemonium,” to the calm epilogue “Impersonating Martin Rev,” “Gatefold” is full of classics.
Unlike their previous releases, “Gatefold” isn’t simply a short, spastic burst of chaos. The variation is astounding, and the passion is so vibrant and palpable, that one can feel it through the speakers. Instrumentally, there is a lot more variety. Tracks such as “We Love Prison” and “Trail of the Unknown Body” utilize the instrumentals more than ever before. This adds an indescribable amount of depth to the album, as it is more dense and profound than in previous releases. Different sounds and percussive elements are used, and the guitarist take a bigger role in the whole thing. And while the vocals have always impressed, on “Gatefold,” the truly defy expectations. Jayson Greene is better than ever on this album. More emotional and passionate before, he utilizes more than one style, and truly adds an indelible amount of depth to the entire record.
“Gatefold” is a masterpiece of emotional hardcore, plain and simple. The lofty prose used to describe it truly undermines the band’s achievement. That is to say, the album cannot be contained into paragraphs and futile languages. The only way to truly understand is to listen. For the short lived band has birthed a genuine piece of artistic expression, and it isn’t something to be missed. To some, the album will be a screamo novelty. To others, an intangible mess, and an overall mockery of music. However, for those who truly embrace “Gatefold,” as well as Orchid, will be rewarded with truly unforgettable experiences.