Orthodox

Amanecer en Puerta Oscura

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On their first album, Gran Poder, Spanish trio Orthodox appeared content to merely imitate the leading architects of the extreme doom genre, such as Boris and Sunn 0))), even going so far as to hide beneath the hoods of monkish cloaks and keep their names secret in a bid for total anonymity. But for their second, 2007's Amanecer en Puerta Oscura, they've not only come out of the shadows, revealed their identities, and let the sun shine through the canopy of trees symbolically gracing the album's cover, but opened their minds to come up with a style more personal and unique. For the bong brigade out there (they tend to like these sorts of bands), let's just say that Orthodox have essentially added "wow" to their pre-existing "woah." "Wow" because astonishing first track, "Con Sangre de Quien Te Ofenda" finds the trio expanding their horizons into avant-garde jazz, à la Coltrane's A Love Supreme (no, seriously!), including horn and clarinet textures and what sounds like a standup contrabass; in sum, the real deal. Later on, they also flirt briefly with minimalist guitar and piano interludes (the title track and "Puerta Osario," respectively) on their way to another, sparsely orchestrated and totally Coltrane-reliant dissertation between upright bass, guitar echoes, and cymbal washes on the 15-minute "Templos." Then, amidst all this shocking novelty, Orthodox also reverts to familiar doom metal form for "Mesto, Rigido e Ceremoniale," "Solemne Triduo," and "Parte II. Apogeum" -- all of which sound notably less extreme than the balls-out, funeral doom of their debut, yet simultaneously more unique and personal in the bargain. Needless to say, though, the harsh duality extant within Amanecer en Puerta Oscura poses many questions for both the band and its listeners: doom metal fans will obviously be forced to expand their musical horizons or go fulfill their usual expectations elsewhere; while avant-jazz and fusion enthusiasts will simply find the band's flirtations with the genre derivative and unsurprising. So it's really up to Orthodox themselves to decide which direction to follow, or, better yet, find a way to combine both into something truly unique and groundbreaking. After all, much of Amanecer en Puerta Oscura is, quite simply, highly un-Orthodox.

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