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The second album by former Discordance Axis vocalist Jon Chang's new grindcore project proves that the group's breathtaking debut, Amber Gray, was no fluke. Longer than its predecessor by one song and 23 seconds (12 tracks in 12:08 as opposed to 11 in 11:47), Orphan is every bit as intense as the last disc, but even more musically accomplished -- and yes, musical accomplishment is very much a consideration in grindcore. GridLink's take on the hyperspeed, ultra-compressed metal subgenre has the intricacy of thrash, especially with king of grindcore drummers Bryan Fajardo (Kill the Client, Phobia, Noisear) in the back, but there's still room for dual guitar interplay worthy of Judas Priest (courtesy of Japanese axeman Takafumi Matsubara, who's also in Chang's other band Hayaino Daisuki, and former Discordance Axis guitarist Steve Procopio) and neck-snapping left turns. Chang himself has evolved as a vocalist, employing his trademark high-pitched shriek quite a bit as always but also dipping into a lower register at times, to dramatic effect. When it's all over, you'll look around, vaguely dazed, wondering what just happened: the sign of truly great grind.

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