Review Summary: Don’t you dare take a stand
Orchid’s self titled and final LP is a difficult beast to tame. Those unfamiliar with the style of the group and most 90s screamo as a whole will be taken aback by it. Bite sized songs with screeching, out of control guitars and drums and high pitched screaming vocals belting out often completely unintelligible lyrics. Still, 90s screamo has an incredibly dedicated underground fan base, and Orchid is one of the bands held in extreme high regard in the scene. Releasing just three short albums in their time together (along with several splits), the group’s total amount of music released in their life time only hits around an hour and a bit. While their early work was suitably abrasive emoviolence, their final LP is where they started to expand their pallet.
‘Orchid’ (or S/T as I’ll be calling it) is 19 tracks of serene chaos. The group’s signature hellish noise still kicks up a storm and the vocals are still as illegible as ever but the group take liberties here and start to experiment. From the two part opener, ‘Amherst Pandemonium’ to the ambient guitar piece ‘Impersonating Martin Rev’, S/T explores a wild mix of sounds and emotions that never fully break away from the group’s routes. There’s ominous and threatening instrumentals (‘Trail Of The Unknown Body’, ‘Impersonating Martin Rev’), more traditional emo (‘Class Pictures’, ‘Anais Nin by Numbers’), almost noise rock (‘We Love Prison!’) to blaring chaotic powerviolence (‘Flip The Tape’). The group tackle a variety of topics, all messily wrapped up underneath a wall of noise. ‘Let’s Commodify Sexuality’ and ‘A Visit From Dr Goodsex’ portray a timid, shy view on sex but with a sort of openness and freeness that’s rather unexpected from a group as ferocious and powerful as Orchid. The group attack their own popularity and the underground scene in general on ‘No, We Don’t Have Any T-Shirts’ and ‘Loft Party’, violence in the screamo scene on ‘I Wanna Fight’ and the corruption of the justice system on ‘We Love Prison’. Each track is delivered with throat shredding rage and an orchestra of blaring guitars and drums that almost mix with lead singer Jayson Green’s lyrics and vocals to create an ominous hellish tone that satiates throughout the record and indeed the rest of the discography.
S/T is one of the greatest screamo records of the 21st century, perhaps even ever. It’s a rough, but supremely well crafted emotional tour de force which kicks you down and never lets go for the short 25 minute runtime. It’s painful, uncomfortable but god damn spectacular. Highly recommend
Amherst Pandemonium Parts 1 & 2
We Love Prison
Trail of The Unknown Body
No, We Don’t Have Any T-Shirts
Anais Nin by Numbers
Let’s Commodify Sexuality
None More Black
Impersonating Martin Rev