By: Garviel Loken
Hailing from way up north in Flagstaff, Black Orchid plays a mixed bag style of metal that many listeners may identify with. On their album "Where This Life Is Leading", the band certainly lets you know what the deal is as there are quite a few stylistic influences that are immediately apparent as they happen each time over the course of the nine songs. Intentional or not, these sounds are pretty glaring and obvious.
For starters, Black Orchid uses a lot of rhythms in the vein of Fear Factory and the kick drum on this recording even sounds very much like the kick drum on Fear Factory's seminal "Demanufacture" album. Looking beyond this, the listener will also find more interesting influences or stylistic devices, such as on the song Bullets and Brains, which has a structure and breakdown very similar to early Killswitch Engage material. This reviewer also has to ask, has this band ever heard of Skinlab?
The thought just cannot be shaken after several complete spins of the album, Black Orchid is very reminiscent of Skinlab. The vocal style and overall midpace tempo of the album definitely help to strengthen that impression. However, the most interesting part of the album is not found within the heavy material or whatever influences upon the band's sound. That distinction belongs to the final track, Outro. This acoustic guitar piece has a nice flow and build up that is very memorable.
Overall, Black Orchid delivers a competent record that mixes up groove, death, and some core. The biggest gripe to be found is in the songwriting. Sure, this band can play metal and come up with songs, but there just is not a lot about the material that is engaging or makes a listener want to listen to it over and over again. This is dangerous territory for a band to be in, especially within the metal genre, as it does your art no good to be lost amongst the sounds of a thousand overly similar bands. Black Orchid shows flashes of talent that hopefully will be embraced to a fuller degree on future albums and propel the band out of the morass of the everyday metal recording.
Final Score: 6/10