Review Summary: Some awesome fucking emotional bullshit.
“Another interesting sub-sub-genre was this strange crossover of first-generation emo and grind. Bands like Reversal of Man or Orchid may not have stood the test of time, but it was a pretty cool sound at the time and one that was uniquely American.” - Greg Pratt, “Altered States,” “Grindcore Special” part 2, Terrorizer #181, p. 43.
To that comment about the “interesting sub-sub-genre,” it truly was interesting, albeit quaint at the time, and yes, Orchid helped shape a new genre of music now known as “screamo.” Orchid possessed a vocalist whose voice was the aural manifestation of cathartic vigor and rough pathos which cleansed the listener of simple mundane problems with his screams and spoken word sections. They had a cavalcade of dissonant musicianship, and the band's caustic, provocative lyrics were only apposite to Jayson Green's voice. Armed with an amalgamation of the aforementioned musical elements, Orchid formed a new style of aural pleasure. And with three full-length albums, five splits, a demo cassette tape, a self-titled EP, and three compilation appearances, Orchid proved that they were prolific, and on each of these releases, they proved that they were an extremely passionate, and overall, a superb outfit.
But with their prolific nature, Orchid fans yearned for the hard-to-find releases that said band had generated, and here is where Totality comes in.
The posthumous album begins with “New Ideas In Mathematics” which can be found on their split with Jerome's Dream. The opening track begins the album on the right foot with their usual chaotic sound with thrash-driven, intense riffage, raucous screams that just well... scream pathos, and those trusty lyrics that Orchid has been known for, those lyrics that Totality exhibits throughout every second of vocalization present. “Eye Gouger” is another highlight that is just as intense and chaotic as “New Ideas In Mathematics.” However, “New Ideas In Mathematics” is far less accessible, and “Eye Gouger” retains a more perceptible groove than the former, thus making it a better track not only in comparison, but on the entire album. “Panopticism” is just the same; a more perceptible groove than “New Ideas In Mathematics,” and intensity are present. And those who have the Combatwoundedveteran split will be thankful that the whole album is remastered, for the latter two tracks were held back from their fullest potential via muddy production and made both tracks sound rather diaphanous. The final track, an alternative version of “Weekend At The Firing Academy” is another track that takes Orchid's signature sound to the extreme. Unlike several other alternative versions that artists release, this one may be equally good, or perhaps better.
The tracks from the Combatwoundedveteran split, and those on the Jerome's Dream split are the best, showcasing the highlights of Orchid's dissonant sound, fast speeds akin to grindcore, and emotional sects with confidence and ultimately come out as the true highlights of the album. The production value is also of a higher quality, which makes the record sound less like I Wrote Haikus About Cannibalism In Your Yearbook, and more like Circle Takes The Square production-wise. But there are the negatives that are present on this album. For one, the tracks taken from the Pig Destroyer split are just mediocre in comparison to this album and Orchid's back catalog as a whole. Secondly, the tracks here are not as powerful or as good as the ones that Orchid has shown us time and time again that they can produce. And thirdly, the arrangement of tracks is sub-par, and thus decreases the enjoyability of the album. But overall, this album is a must-have for any Orchid fan, and it's a must-have for any screamo fan, or any fan of music in general, as the compilation of tracks is freaking fantastic overall.
FINAL RATING: 4.2/5-Some awesome ***ing emotional bull***.