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Orpheum: Darkness And Decay

It's been a slow gestation for London's Orpheum, the band forming in the mid 2000s but between then and now only mustering the EP Treason. Hence Darkness And Decay is the band's full length debut, although with two songs repeated from the EP and two of the ten cuts on show different takes on main album cut "Memento Vivere", you could argue there's only really six new tracks. Sound wise this female fronted quintet head down the gothic path, deep, dense and dark all words that work in tandem with the atmosphere created.

Recorded in the band's home city, the results were mastered by Chris Smart in Ontario, Canada and yet if there's one thing that makes Darkness And Decay tough to break down, then it's a cluttered mix and lack of separation between the instruments. Considering the intricate and nuanced nature of what Orpheum create, it's a big hurdle to overcome, "No Way Through" and "Broken Glass Kiss" verging on jumbled as guitar struggles to be heard amongst the bass thrum, percussive slap and keyboard washes. Unfortunately the knock on effect of that is that the vocals from Erin Johnson can often feel isolated and alone in the mix, leaving her tones not as sympathetic to the music as may have been hoped.

The reasonably singular pace of the music across the whole album doesn't really help matters either, a mid paced plod the chosen route and while that does build up a hard hitting head of steam through early cuts such as "Treason" and the album's title cut, across the full album things can become overbearing and leaden. That said, the intricacy involved in weaving piano, spoken sections and orchestrals through the metallic framework leaves little doubt that Orpheum are skilled arrangers, it's just a shame that too often the mitigating factors leaves the impact blunted.

Darkness And Decay possesses more than its fair share of ear snagging highlights and leaves little doubt that those involved are skilled and passionate about what they do. However in a genre that seems to have more and more bands jostling for attention, there's not enough in the Orpheum trick bag to continually bring you back for more. Add in those aural issues and the memorable sections you always get the feeling this album contains deep within, never really manage to fight their way to the surface.

Track Listing
1. Darkness and Decay
2. Treason
3. No Way Through
4. Broken Glass Kiss
5. Said the Spider
6. Porcelain Doll
7. Eden
8. Memento Vivere
9. Memento Vivere (Cello Lament)
10. Memento Vivere (Choral)

Added: September 5th 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Orpheum on Facebook
Hits: 1429
Language: english

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