By Nathanas Trismegistus
Order of Orias – Ablaze; released April 30 by World Terror Committee, a label which has a seemingly endless roster of middling occult black metal bands on a regularly scheduled rotation for release. By the way, I’m aware that there is a whole sub-sub-sub-genre of bands which call themselves “occult black metal”, but their “occult”-ness refers more to their characteristic obscure, echoey, raw sound than their occult themes. Watain-inspired, dissonant-to-melodic alternating bands, like Order of Orias, employ more traditional occult, or “orthodox Satanist” (I’m aware that they’re not the same thing, but they are, nonetheless, related), themes and imagery, which is why I refer to them as such. Just wanted to clear that up.
This relatively unknown band from Australia has apparently been around for some time; since 2007, as Order of Orias, and since 2005 as Eidölon. Despite being around for a decade and a half, they have only released two albums, Ablaze included. Is it a matter of quality over quantity? Not exactly, but I’ll get into that momentarily. (I actually do own their other album, but I wouldn’t deign to guess when the last time I listened to it was.) A lot of worthwhile black metal bands have emerged from Down Under. Drowning the Light, Rattenkönig, Goatblood all come to mind. Of course, I like Portal, Impetuous Ritual, Grave Upheaval and all those, even though they’re not strictly “black metal”. The closest, obvious comparison to Order of Orias’ musical style would, of course, be Barshasketh. Though they are not Aussies (they’re Kiwis), their respective musical styles both follow that sort of Swedish melodic black metal pattern. Barshasketh have also been around about as long as Order of Orias, but they’ve managed to crank out four albums of commensurate quality (the latest of which I’ve already reviewed).
You really can’t knock Order of Orias’ performances, let alone the production quality of this album and its pacing. It’s all really good. The nearly 40-minute runtime blazes past you. Everything sounds crisp and clear. This band’s priority is obviously more oriented towards capturing their musical work rather than emulating any mythical “trve kvlt” sound. But it’s also obvious that Order of Orias are trying to emulate something and it’s obvious what it is. And they do it very well, so, if their goal is to carry the aforementioned torch of such sinister melodic Swedish acts as Watain, Ondskapt, and Malign – all of whom, I would add, are still active even if they don’t continue to make music – then they certainly achieve that goal. The weaknesses of this album, though, really are the lack of originality or ingenuity. Also, with regards to the pacing, it’s less a matter of “wow, that album was so engaging, I can’t believe it was 40 minutes long!” and more a matter of “where was I the last 40 minutes?”, which is never a good thing, in my opinion. The composition is all fine, but nothing was really all that memorable. Seriously, not a single note of this album has managed to linger in my mind. It’s a lot of droning dissonance with the intermittent fast-paced trem-picked melody. Really nothing of any special significance or noteworthiness to be found here.
The best word I could use to describe Ablaze would be “nondescript”, and I really hate those sorts of albums because they are the hardest to review. You’ve probably heard a similar sentiment expressed regarding other kinds of media, but it’s certainly true for black metal as well. I can’t bring myself to care about spending the time to write a review for something so unrepentantly banal. Obviously I wouldn’t recommend it unless you just want a wall of sound to accompany your child sacrifice, or whatever it is you do in your spare time. Obviously, not essential.
Regardless, decide for yourself. Listen/buy here: https://wtcproductions.bandcamp.com/album/ablaze