I only knew Oh Sees (previously Thee oh Sees) from their liner on KSDB. But when I saw they came out with a new album, I knew I had to check it out.
“The Static God” is a great first track because it’s fast paced and chaotic in an amazing way. I rarely hear songs where the vocalist isn’t the main focus, but in this song the ear-splitting electric guitar gets to take the lead. The album then shifts into the very synth-heavy “Nite Expo”, which if the album cover didn’t give away, this song sounds like it came straight from the late 80s. The next song, “Animated Violence”, is about the stereotypical buff guy. “Old is warrior/ Drink the poison/ I am warrior/ Crush your head in.” It is purposefully simplistic, because the focus is on the music, specifically the drums.
“Keys to the Castle” is where the album starts to shift. It starts off similar to the other songs, but around the three-minute mark it slows down to the point of sounding almost sluggish, and gradually builds itself back up with violins and an upright bass. As out of place as that sounds, the track is amazing and a great change of pace. The next song, “Jettisoned”, takes more of a blues approach, bringing back the synthesizer and adding whispered vocals. “You can keep your nose buried deep yeah/ Pinched inside a vice/ Who likes sugar in their coffin?/ The underground is twice as nice yeah.” But in between verses the drums and guitar get a lot heavier, shifting back and forth from blues to rock.
To change up their sound even more, the focal instrument in “Cadaver Dog” is an electric keyboard, and the vocals sound like a pirate chant. Again, these things don’t seem to go together, but they do. The next couple of songs are okay, but nothing great. They’re more slow-paced than the rest of the album, and would work better as transition songs instead of being back-to-back near the end of the album. The last song, “Raw Optics” builds back some of the energy from the beggining of the album, and closes Orc on a high note.
Overall, Orc manages to be both a fun, upbeat rock album, while also experimenting with putting different sounds together in a way that pays off.
By: Monica Brich