With a critically acclaimed debut album already under their belt and a strong reputation earned for their energy surging live side, Black Orchid Empire look at even greater attention with new full-length Yugen. With eleven tracks of adventurous heavy weight alternative rock embracing the familiar and individual whilst unleashing hooks so easy to get snagged upon and lithe grooves to swing from, the UK outfit’s second album is a rather tasty proposition with regular moments of imposing captivation.
Since emerging in 2011, the London hailing trio has drawn increasing attention with their fiery yet resourcefully and carefully woven sound. That well-praised first album, Archetype, put them solidly on the radar of media and new fans alike, its release in 2016 the ignition to their continuing ascent within the British rock scene sure to be escalated by Yugen. Alongside the former’s success, Black Orchid Empire has been a potent live presence, making numerous much-lauded festival appearances at the likes of Standon Calling, Planet Rockstock, Camden Rocks, and Germany’s Taubertal Festival and sharing stages with artists such as Biffy Clyro, Editors, Skunk Anansie, and Hed P.E who the threesome supported on a UK tour.
Now the band is ready to stir up fresh fuss around themselves, success which even from the boisterous persuasion of opening track of Yugen you get the feeling is close to being a done deal. My Favourite Stranger is also the new single from Black Orchid Empire, a song stirring from a distant sonic squall with a great grumbling rusty bass lure quickly bound in the wiry tendrils of Paul Visser’s guitar. As the song settles without losing those tempting elements, his equally enticing vocals step forward backed by the just as melodically fine tones of bassist David Ferguson. The band has been regularly likened to Biffy Clyro and Muse but for us and certainly with this start, their sound sits somewhere between Reuben, Sick Puppies, and Foo Fighters in varying degrees across each song.
The equally magnetic Burn follows; bass and guitar again setting an enticing canvas for vocals to spring from and the firm manipulative beats of drummer Billy Freedom to shape. In that inviting and slightly imposing proposal, the track is an animated and unpredictable web of imagination and enterprise. Twists come and go; all delivering fresh adventure and bait while the song fluidly swings between teasing seduction and a full throated roar.
Previous single Celebrity Summer is next, the opening croon of Visser and his guitar a mischievous if emotive spark to the track’s ferocity and urgency as well as another trap of hooks and sonic dexterity. A tenacious slice of vociferous rock ‘n’ roll, the track also hit the spot dead centre before Wires entangled ears and appetite in its contagious aggression lined exploits. From vocals to rhythms, melody to sonic trespass, the song is a formidable and compelling incitement uniting a host of voracious flavours, all traits colouring Yugen from start to finish.
Blacklight Shadow makes its own mellow emotive entrance after the previous blaze, its elevated croon surrounded by sonic flames before settling down again to repeat the rich cycle. That earlier mentioned Australian band certainly comes to mind in the track but again the Black Orchid Empire sound soon establishes its own character with tempestuous power.
As the likes of the muscular and invasively magnetic Pray To The Creature with its weave of senses scorching tendrils and the heart spun atmospheric balladry of Vertigo rise, variety and pleasure go hand in hand. The second of the two wears an alluring country blues scent to its impassioned voice too, more of the broad flavours the album embraces while Mouth Of The Wolf takes essences of hard rock into its seriously catchy prowl. Emerging as album favourite here, the song nags and jabs, teases and taunts with its controlled but hungry imagination and touch, pretty much living up to the snarling intimation of its title.
A more straightforward proposal comes with Pins And Needles, maybe the album’s least bold song but another which just grips attention and pleases as Toru’s Maze waits to uncage its infectious wares; that grizzled tone of Ferguson’s bass again licking at personal pleasure here though the whole of band and song manages to stoke things up.
Ending with the quite captivating roar of Years, a track erupting from a potently alluring ballad cry into a heart unleashing blaze, Yugen is one thoroughly enjoyable and so often striking release. is there any other reason to check it and Black Orchid Empire out?
Yugen is released May 25th via Long Branch Records; available @ https://blackorchidempire.bandcamp.com/album/yugen
Upcoming live shows:
02.06.2018 UK, London – Camden Rocks Festival
03.06.2018 UK, Glasgow – Broadcast /w Black Map
04.06.2018 UK, Manchester – Gulliver’s /w Black Map
07.06.2018 UK, Donington – Download Festival
22.06.2018 UK, York – Pile Up Festival
Pete RingMaster 24/05/2018
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