Left Hip

Spain's Orthodox are revered by the drone/doom/metal community but their newest album, Amacer en Puerta Oscura could as easily pass itself off as free-improv or experimental music. Yeah there are epic heavier-than-thou sludgefest moments that remind you that you're listening to a Southern Lord slab of utter darkness, but there's also experimental moments of clarinet, cymbal wash and double-bass that bear no resemblance to anything most people will have ever considered metal or doom.

Some may consider vocals the one weak link the Orthodox chain. Sounding a bit like a strained combination of Boris and Om, they give context to the band, which I think sullies the otherwise 'beyond comparison' quality of the record. Not terrible but probably not necessary - the music alone could easily stand on its own merits.

Their pioneering spirit makes Orthodox a refreshing listen - they seem to know no genre boundaries and as such will advance the scene they're coming out of and could easily win fans from the jazz, experimental and free-improv camps as well. An upcoming collaboration with a Spanish flamenco dancer is proof positive that these guys are not content to dwell solely within the tried and true doom domain from which they have emerged.

The dramatic shift between sounds gives both styles room to breathe. Metal album of the year? Possibly. If you want to hear metal that pushes boldy into uncharted, avant-garde territory, you really ought to check out Amacer en Puerta Oscura. Brilliant album.

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