OV
ORTHRELM

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ORTHRELM - OV cover
3.35 | 5 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 2005

Filed under Avant-garde Metal

Tracklist

1. OV (45:43)

Total Time: 45:43

Line-up/Musicians

Mick Barr / Guitar
Josh Blair / Drums

About this release

Released through Ipecac Records, June 14, 2005.
Catalog number: IPC-64

Thanks to renkls for the updates

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ORTHRELM OV reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

siLLy puPPy
The metal universe has always been about borrowing disparate ideas and methodologies from other varied musical genres from all around the world. After all, the whole genre began by taking the psych laden blues rock of the 60s and dragging it down into the darker recesses of the sound spectrum to conjure up some of the most gloomy and sombre human emotions to emerge in its wake and simply cranking up the distortion level with darker lyrics. So it’s really no surprise that as the simple blues inspirations became exhausted in the 70s that new fuel needed to be consumed for the metal machine to take musical inspiration and ignite so it will burn like a forest fire unleashing new hitherto unthinkable possibilities. ORTHRELM, the avant-garde music duo of Mick Barr on guitar and Josh Blair on drums had been leading up to this triumph of sonic glory called OV since their debut in 2001. While the metal world cross-pollinated like a lava flow smothering the fertile lands below a volcano it continued to ratchet up its complexity level and as it began to reach the unthinkable heights of the pinnacle of progressive rock, it was beginning to seem like there was nowhere left to go.

That’s where forward thinkers like Mick Barr come in. On ORTHRELM’s 2005 landmark album OV, the duo exponentially lifted themselves above the sheer math rock wankery that their earlier albums are known for. While classical music has certainly been a major part of the hard rock and heavy metal universe ever since Ritchie Blackmore incorporated it into Mark II period of Deep Purple, never before have the two extremes of virtuoso guitar shredding and the classical minimalism of artists like Steve Reich and Philip Glass ever come together until Barr and Blair released this album of polarizing extremes in the form of the OV album in 2005. Never before has an album of incredibly virtuoso shredding of guitar with the bombast of unthinkable drum abuse coalesced into a minimalistic music form that could result in a meditative practice if consumed correctly. As wild as it sounds, this album is in effect a wild ride into two musical extremes which incorporate guitar shredding with extreme minimalism simultaneously.

Despite being limited to a mere guitar and drums, Barr and Blair are veritable beasts on their instruments of choice doing unthinkable things at a million miles per second throughout pretty much the entirety of the 45 minute and 43 second single track that makes up the album OV. After several albums of pluming their feathers and ruffling them up to impress the music fans, on OV, the duo known as ORTHRELM finally delivers the promise they had been hinting at without sacrificing the intensity that they had been implementing all along. What’s cool about OV is that it goes through a series of passages that begin with a minimalistic chord progression to wail on for several minutes and seduce you into the feel of the composition and going though various changes before finally letting loose towards the end with a series of intense riffs, shredding bombast and excruciating deciblage. This is metal unlike any other and only continues the duo’s unique musical language that only they alone truly understand.

OV is a trumph in many ways. Not only does it undoubtedly indoctrinate Mick Barr into the world of fastest shredders which should not leave Josh Blair off the hook for some of the sickest drum abuse in the entire music history books but also proves that creating unthinkable speeds is not tantamount to a lack of regard for sensuality. While on previous albums ORTHRELM did seem to generate random patterns of musical intensity, on OV everything seems like the perfect cross-pollination of the most intense musical shredding session one can think of in the context of a relaxing vipassana retreat. As the single track rolls by it is engaged in a very mindful interaction between the two instruments that change up the parts ever so slightly but then without warning they divert to some new arena of musicality but always mindful of each other’s role in the overall scheme of things. OV successfully ratchets up the tension to a fulfilling climax by the end of the album where the guitar and the drums practically become one with another and take on enough roles to simulate the intensity of a full band. OV is one of those albums that must be heard to be understood. It’s simply too far removed from the context of any possible labeling.
renkls
Now this is a monster of a piece of music. I am sort of surprised to find this on here. But it is progressive, certainly, as a single 45 minute, progressing math rock ASSAULT, with emphasis on assault for good reason. For those not familiar with Orthrelm's musical work prior to this, it is often jazzy, fast paced and short running bursts of avant madness. This is completely different. If you don't make it through the first fifteen, hell, even ten minutes at first, then that is to be expected. It's an audial affront, avant grade at its most powerful and confronting. But that doesn't make it any less then a masterpiece. I haven't explained what it actually is yet. OV is essentially based on repetition. A hell of a lot of them. For the first seventeen minutes, the guitarist Mike Barr is caught in three note guitar riffing which changes about six or seven times in those seventeen minutes. The drums don't change, except with the guitar. There are no vocals over the entire length. To call this an endurance piece is mandatory. What you find however, is that under the unceasing noise is human error. There are times where the drums and guitar touch each other in perfect duel pacing, and others where the guitar plays at a different speed, etc. The riffs go faster and slower. There is a lot of depth in the segments which run up to three or four minutes before a half second segue links to the next marathon riff. At times it sounds like there are up to four guitars going at once. I have heard on other reviewing sites that this is great music for meditation. If anything, it is fantastic for learning to transcend audial assaults. It is a subjective five star rating. I expect, if people review this aside from me, it will garner many one star ratings. I think that all music stands outside rating confines, and this is one shining example of 'you either love it or hate it'. By the way, it does get shorter half way through, changing riffs unexpectedly every now and then. If you make it that far, it may be your cup of tea. I seldom listen to it, but I admire the concept, and for that, I give a subjective five stars. It probably took less time for Orthrelm to come up with the riffs then it did to write the review for this.
Conor Fynes
'OV' - Orthrelm (2/10)

Although it is obviously my number one goal in music to find the best work and new sounds to digest, a side-project of mine has also been to fine albums that either completely contradict my concept of taste, or strike me as not only being bad, but downright unlistenable. Although Orthrelm's 'OV' has quite a few people who have found something 'great' in it, it is one such album that completely goes against how I enjoy music. Of course, the possibility is always left open that an album of this nature will revolutionize my views on music. In the case of 'OV' sadly, shred drone metal is not the pick of the day, or tomorrow, or probably ever. Comprised of a single forty minute composition, Orthrelm takes a handful of sloppy shred metal ideas, and draws them out to such a length and level of repetition that sanity may be lost half way through.

Usually, I would have plenty to say about the slight nuances and themes that pervade a forty minute piece. After all, they are usually a work of labour and love, and often meticulously crafted. Orthrelm may have put a lot of effort and care into creating 'OV', but my concerns lie with how the music has translated into the result I have heard, and am hearing. A two man group armed with nothing more than a handful of guitars and a drumkit, Orthrelm is not aiming for the lush arrangements and instrumentation that a typical progressive metal band has. You either have the chaotic drumming, or an unrelenting shred pattern that does not seem to give up. 'OV' opens up promisingly enough, with a bass note that pumps along, as if it were building up to something epic. By the time the overdrawn intro is up, a listener will have been filled in on virtually everything that transpires within the album. The bass disappears, and in its stead, there is an ear-piercing guitar shredding pattern. I cannot say it is even a 'guitar lick', because what comes out from the guitar does not sound like notes. Instead, three, or five, or ten minutes into hearing the exact same pattern sweeping up and down, Orthrelm's guitar sounds much less like an instrument, and much like a winged insect with baby-making on its mind.

I could say that there are more ideas to 'OV' than the shred idea, but that might imply that there is any sense of variety to this. Occasionally- and I do mean only occasionally- Orthrelm will break out of the shred to amp up the noise with some chaotic riff-chugs plucked right out of the math rock handbook. After being virtually condemned to the notion that nothing else would ever change in the sound, it is a pleasant shock to hear them do something else, but after a few seconds, the listener is treated to a variation on the same bloody shredding . By the end of this catastrophe, headaches were inevitable. Now, to those listeners who have found solace and enjoyment in 'OV', I do understand that the seemingly endless repetition does attempt to reach that feeling of being lured into a trance and hypnotized, and as unlistenable as this entire album was, the drumming remained fairly intense. However, when an album becomes a labour of willpower to properly sit through, it becomes clear that Orthrelm's music won't be appealing to me any time soon.

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