Written by: AP on 24/12/2017 17:05:05

The atmospheric and post-black metal niches have witnessed an explosive growth in recent years — not least in the kingdom of Denmark, where the number of artists now putting out prime examples of the genre belies the size of the country. As the spearhead, Solbrud’s eponymous début album triggered a new movement, which has only gained traction since via the incorporation of artists such as Myrkur, møl, Sunken and Tongues among others, and the mainstream beginning to show an interest. ORM was absorbed into the sweeping tide in late 2015, when the quartet rose from the ashes of By the Patient and made an indelible mark on the scene with their first single, “Serpent Mother”, and thus set the expectations high for this inaugural effort.

With the genre already becoming saturated in a worldwide context, ORM understood that in order to meet those expectations, it was paramount to introduce some kind of differential to their formula that would set them apart from their colleagues home and abroad. The groundwork for this was laid on the band’s swan song as By the Patient — “Gehenna” — on which the four musicians began to push their death metal grooves in a blacker and more grandiose direction. In a sense, “Orm” brings that process to its logical conclusion, and although the death metal residue is quite minimal on it, manifesting itself mainly through the overdubbed growls of guitarists Simon Sonne Andersen and Theis Wilmer Poulsen, it suffices to make ORM instantly recognisable. And while the music is very much in the spirit of those earthly, atmospheric black metal bands that sprung up in the United States in the mid-‘00s, the melodies are characteristic of the Nordic tradition — vast, melancholy and frostbitten — contributing another layer of personality to ORM’s palette. As such, even though the influence of most notably Wolves in the Throne Room on ORM’s sound cannot and should not be understated, the four-piece has plenty of its own ideas to avoid the stigma of being labeled a mere copycat act.

The album opens without frills, bursting out of the gates with blastbeats and a crackling tremolo riff of which Jon Nödtveidt of Dissection would have been proud in “Blood of Your Blood”, and then takes the shape of an incessant cascade of folk-flavoured melodies, stumbling over each other to be the most sombre and monumental. Decidedly weak moments are thus in short supply on “Orm”, but there are of course a number of compositions that do deserve special attention. One of these arrives in the form of “Ancient Echoes”, the devastating tone, monolithic chords and transformative climax of which provide one of the finest musical epitomes of the Nordic wilderness that I have heard yet. “Apotheosis” is another prime example, disclosing the entire spectrum of ORM’s musical influences and introducing a progressive touch to the proceedings across its span. There is a bit of Bathory, a bit of Behemoth, a bit of Immortal, even a bit of mid-‘90s era In Flames raising its head during the 10 minutes that the track occupies — and it comes with a breathtaking, elegiac crescendo which, with its operatic chants, would do well as the burial hymn for some fallen Viking. And sandwiched in between the two, the harrowing “Temple of the Deaf” offers the strongest reminder yet of the band’s former self in an almost perfect marriage of groove and grandeur.

None of ORM’s songwriting prowess would matter, however, had the band been cursed with sub-par production. Despite the fact that the album was recorded live, producer Lasse Ballade has managed to grace the effort with a full and expansive sound, without sacrificing the organicity that is so pivotal to the atmosphere of this genre. Both the drumming of Adam Schønemann and the bass licks of Troels Cort Nielsen enjoy a stronger presence in the mix than is custom — and even though the shrieks, snarls and growls of the two frontmen are mostly deployed in unison, one never feels like the soundscape has been forced to surrender some of its richness. Indeed, it is tempting to suggest that “Orm” might be one of the most skilfully produced black metal albums in some time. In terms of overall potency, it is also an unusually strong début, although with such experienced personnel at hand, this is not exactly surprising. Still, when juxtaposed against the aforementioned “Gehenna”, it is remarkable to witness the growth that these four musicians have undergone in terms of ambition in a short period, and if they continue to build upon the expanse of ideas presented on this titular effort, ORM will be well underway to becoming one of the most revered extreme metal artists that Denmark has to offer right now.


Download: Ancient Echoes, Templet of the Deaf, Apotheosis
For the fans of: Dissection, Solbrud, Thulcandra, Wolves in the Throne Room
Listen: Facebook

Release date 24.03.2017
Indisciplinarian Records

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