Writing a review on an Origin album is definitely not an easy task. Those who have ever heard the band will definitely understand where I'm coming from on this - Origin is a band that is NOT easy on the ear. The response people commonly have the first time they hear this band is something involving a number of expletives, yelling, and ear covering. Why is this exactly? Well, Origin plays a brand of technical death metal that, to put it bluntly, kicked me square in the face the first time I heard them. There is nothing pretty about their music - their songs are absolute aural assaults. What the songs lack in length, they almost certainly make up for in intensity. I'll even go as far as to say that Origin is the most BRUTAL death metal band I have ever heard in my many years of travels, and that's saying quite a bit.
To most people, including a number of metalheads, Origin will generally sound like a ton of noise. Calling them an acquired taste is an beyond an understatement. I remember it took me repeated listens just to get into less extreme bands such as Opeth, and even after that it took me a bit of time before I finally "got" Origin. And it was then that I realized just how talented the band was - they pack more into a 2 and a half minute song than some bands can put in a song several times as long. Every song has a vast number of riffs, each of which is played at breakneck speed. The drumming is beyond furious and frantic, flying along almost effortlessly. And the vocals, well, although you couldn't tell by listening, apparently say quite a lot if these relatively epic liner notes are true. Lead singer James Lee's vocal style is a growl that seems pretty much like barking and growling, and guitarists Paul Ryan and Clint Appelhanz are constantly coming in as well with some backing growls of their own. A number of their songs use all three vocalists, and of course, to utmost efficiency.
So essentially, what do all those parts add up to? Well, the best way I can put it is listening to an Origin album is the musical equivalent of getting hit by a pile of bricks...10 or more consecutive times. Their sound is about as subtle as a brass knuckled punch to the groin and they're even louder than the resulting scream.
Echoes of Decimation is the band's third offering, the follow-up to 2002's Informis Infinitas Inhumanitas. Echoes of Decimation follows along in exactly the same vein as III in that the album is a full-out assault from beginning to end, letting up only in the extremely brief period between tracks. Riffs are numerous, extremely complex, and played at ridiculous speeds and the vocals are as intense as ever.
The one thing that makes Origin stand out is also perhaps their biggest short-coming. On the first couple of listens, their songs sound pretty much the same, and take a large number of listens just to be able to tell them apart, let alone pick out unique traits about each one. There's only so much a band like this can do without straying too far from their own sound, which can be both a blessing and a curse. The good thing is you know exactly what you're going to get from Origin, but there's always the risk of the band not being able to stay fresh. However, I've listened to Echoes of Decimation well over four times today alone, and have been spinning it pretty frequently since I got it. Each listen has uncovered something new to me, as if there's a big web of secrets hidden behind this wall of what will strike about 98% of the music listening population strictly as noise.
Besides the addictive nature of it, the biggest reason why I've been able to listen to Echoes of Decimation so many times is its length - the album clocks in at an extremely svelte 26:31. While most people will complain that the length is barely longer than an EP (and only about half the length of Dream Theater's Change of Seasons EP), remember those 26 and a half minutes will definitely kick the crap out of you. The longest song on the album is the closer, "Echoes of Decimation", clocking in at an EPIC 4:03. Most of the other songs are between 2 and 3 minutes long.
Picking out standout tracks is definitely a difficult task with a band like this, but there are a couple that seem to stick with me a bit more than the others. The album's opener, "Reciprocal" flies right at you instantly, chugging away at speeds that make chugging seem like a dramatically inappropriate word. The three-pronged vocal attack is in full-force and the guitars alternate between beyond brutal riffs and wails. And believe it or not, there actually is a very, VERY brief breakdown in the song...as if they stopped for a very short time to load a cannon before firing it once again - directly into your face.
"The Burner" is another standout, and also the track I'm most familiar with because the band released it a few weeks before the release of the album. Some quick sound effects (and explosion, of course) lead into piercing screams over, yeah, intense drumming and riffs. James King really shows off his chops on here, abusing his double bass and making great use of blast beats. You definitely won't find too many people faster than him on drums. "The Burner" also the closest thing to a hook, with some surprisingly catchy vocal trade-offs.
"Amoeba" has some guitar parts that give off a bit of a Dimebag Darrell vibe at the beginning, and then the remainder of the song goes back to the familiar HITTHEDECK!!!#$! approach we've managed to become very accustomed to after listening to the preceeding tracks. The vocals are a little slower here in some parts, but Lee is still barking away at you, so brutality is still assured.
Of course, describing tracks on here is relatively meaningless, as is the case with the other two Origin albums. All of them are very similar, especially if you're not into the ultra-technical, brutal aspect of the band. And yet, despite the similarities, I just can't seem to get enough of this album. I'm not going to deny that many times I find my legs moving as if I were playing a double bass myself; it's like I'm headbanging in my legs. Sure, I liked III, but Echoes of Decimation is better produced, more polished, and just feels more complete all-around. I'm giving this album five stars because as of right now, it's definitely the epitome of what this band can do. Granted this won't appeal to everyone (in fact, it will appeal to hardly anyone), but for what it's worth, Echoes of Decimation is damn good.