Review Summary: An exercise in extreme minimalism... which is precisely why it works.
When you hear the words "fastest guitarists," who comes to your mind first" Buckethead" Michael Angelo Bacio" Michael Romeo" When I hear the phrase, I think of Mick Barr, one half of the duo Orthrelm (among many other duo projects and, of course, the black metal band Krallice). Generally known for sacrificing emotion for straight up mechanical precision and dexterity in his playing, Barr is definitely a polarizing subject in the metal community for that very reason. Orthrelm is essentially the same style of playing accompanied by Josh Blair's equally rapid drumming, and the result is exceptionally punishing to say the least. There's no bass, no vocal accompaniment, nothing but high-speed repetitious guitar shredding and maniacal drum work.
With that in mind, we come to their 2005 album OV, a 45-minute beast of a record that will undoubtedly take a lengthy period of time to get into. You know what I said about Orthrelm's sound" Yeah, imagine that stretched over 45 minutes and nearly devoid of any cool-down points in the intensity. It is an entirely uncompromising experience that grabs the listener by the balls and doesn't let go until the 45 minutes are up. And... to be honest... even with all of that said, it's a pretty glorious listen as well.
Sure, the minimalism will make casual listeners want to shove a chainsaw up their a**, but that's why it's so great. It forces you to stay focused and, in turn, pay attention to the little nuances between both instruments as they play. Whether it be a small drum break or the transitions between guitar licks, there's always something to take in that's not part of what's taken in as face value. While some portions may be irksome, such as the repeated atonal guitar chord opening the song, the shredding parts are really where the heart of the song lies. As I said, the little variations that lie in between the precise guitar strikes are what makes this album so memorable, along with the scarily spot-on drum fills that illustrate many of the musical transitions. With a duration of 45 minutes, much like Fantomas' "Delirium Cordia" being about 55 minutes (the rest is vinyl scratching), there's bound so be at least one area in the song for one to enjoy, regardless of the intense repetition.
I'm not saying this album is accessible, AT ALL, but for the few that can stomach its length and minimalist nature, it is an immensely rewarding listen. It may not be top-tier in the world of avant-garde or metal music, but it is certainly an underrated gem in its own right. Whether used as background music or as a central point of focus, OV is a great piece of insanity and intensity.