Unorthodox

Asylum

  • AllMusic Rating
    8
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Having weathered untold adversity and obscurity throughout most of the 1980s, only to discover that another band already owned the rights to use their name, Silver Spring, MD's Asylum rechristened themselves Unorthodox as the new decade dawned, perhaps hoping that better luck would follow. It did, in the shape of a long sought-after recording contract (albeit with an indie label, but still better than nothing), and when the band released their 1992 debut album -- duly named Asylum in reference to their past -- it showed that Unorthodox was not a moniker taken lightly, but a true representation of the trio's unusually broad definition of the style. And we're not just making a distinction between the leaden, trad-doom (i.e. Sabbath karaoke) displayed so rarely by cuts like "Smokin' Joe" and "Forgotten Image" nor even the comparatively thrilling, more energetic, and thoroughly modern templates embodied by the semi-thrashing "Suicide King" and the simultaneously brutal and ethereal "Harvest" (which forecasts the style of Spirit Caravan albums still a few years hence). No, several songs here, including "Realize a Dream" and "Feel Like You," forgo power chord overkill altogether in exchange for alternate picking schemes that bring D.C. doom closer to Seattle grunge than ever before (or since, for that matter). And while the title cut seemed to take giddy pleasure in accelerating from doom to thrash in seconds, the kaleidoscopic instrumental "Scorpio Rising" simply defied any attempt at genre-centric description. All told, this mixture of the familiar and unfamiliar really did Unorthodox's name justice, and established them as a progressive doom force to watch in the 1990s. [Asylum was reissued in 2007 by Bipolar by Popular Demand Records with an additional three tracks bonus tracks recorded four years earlier.]

blue highlight denotes track pick