In the plethora of Black Sabbath-worshipping bands out there, San Franciscan’s Orchid are one of the most unashamedly complete when it comes to sounding like their heroes. This year’s “The Mouths of Madness” album still drank from the well of inspiration laid down by the Brummie legends but buried under the vocal wails and heavy riffs was the sense that Orchid were trying to stamp their own authority on their music and not just pay homage.
But “The Zodiac Sessions” isn’t a follow-up to that album but a single-disc package that brings together their 2009 “Through the Devil’s Doorway” EP and 2011’s debut full-length album “Capricorn”, and if Black Sabbath’s “13” didn’t quite bring that classic doomy sound up to date in the way that you wanted it to then this could well be worth putting on your turntable instead as there is more than just imitation of Sabbath’s sound on here.
If that sounds a little accusing then just listen to ‘Into the Sun’ and try to get the main riff of ‘Symptom of the Universe’ out of your head, or play ‘Capricorn’ back-to-back with ‘Hole in the Sky’ and try to spot the differences. But sounding like Black Sabbath isn’t a bad thing if you’ve got the plums to do it right and Orchid definitely have some cracking songs in amongst all the familiar riffs and melodies, such as the bass-led stomp of ‘Down into the Earth’ which stands out as a definite highlight, with a low-end that would make Geezer Butler tremble and a crackling energy that dares you not to throw all sorts of shapes whilst banging your head (plus more than a whiff of ‘Into the Void’ but it fits.)
Yeah, Orchid may not be the most original band around but they are genuine in what they do and whilst this collection of early material may bring out feelings of déjà vu if you’re a Sabbath fan (and let’s face it, who isn’t?) it’s still chock-full of great music that doesn’t seem to age, so why not?