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Black Orchid Empire – Semaphore Award winner

Black Orchid Empire
by Joseph Hausmann at 17 July 2020, 11:07 AM

Europe has been going through a massive influx of new Metal. The amount of acts that are starting to emerge from this region of the world is powerful. Part of this emerging and exploding wave of Metal is a melodic yet savage band out of the UK. Their blends of beautiful melodies with downright brutal instrumentals have become their signature sound. With four albums under their belt, BLACK ORCHID EMPIRE emerged with their fifth album "Semaphore" through Long Branch Records on June 12th of 2020.

The first track that caught my ear was "Singularity." The heavy instrumentals are crisp and complex but also have very enthralling hooks that keep you wanting more. The vocals are clean which I thought is a refreshing change from that norm. The chorus is well crafted and keeps the listener engaged. "Motorcade" is interesting. The verses are very abrupt and short with the vocals before they break into a brighter melody in the chorus. It’s a very unique way to build the track and one that I enjoyed thoroughly. It is always good to see bands take a different approach with their sound. The melody softens mid-track, going for a very ambient feel before the heavy instrumentals return.

"Winter Keeps Us Warm" is my favorite track off the album. The softer side of BLACK ORCHID EMPIRE shines through on this song. The soft melody at the beginning of the track is breathtaking. I felt a very deep connection with this track and when a song hits you like that, you know it's a damn good one. The chorus builds this wave of emotion that wells up inside of you. There are some heavier parts in the chorus but the way it compliments that soft melody is amazing. After that soft track, they hit us hard with "Dust." The beginning riff is brutal and heavy before abruptly ending and giving way to another beautifully crafted soft melody. The amount of transitions that this band goes through is remarkable. The vocal work also is interesting in this song with the transitions. The ranges change constantly as well as the intensity adding multiple layers to this already layered track.

“Death From Above” gives us a really heavy opening that transitions into a high overarching melody. This track has an almost futuristic sound to it. I can’t help but to imagine that I’m on this massive spacecraft blasting through the outer edges of the solar system. When music is able to give you a feeling in the form of an image, it makes you connect more easily. There is a part where the drums and guitars hit hard at the same time and it reminds me of what the sound of space cannons shooting would sound like.

"Monolith" has a Djent feel to it with the short abrupt notes of the guitars before breaking away into the softer melodies that I am beginning to become accustomed to in this album. The technical prowess of the band allows for multiple transitions, giving us complex parts paired with simple techniques that diversify the track even more. "Crash" rounds out the album with an ethereal vocal part that holds a somber and melancholic sound. The song builds continuously into a more intense sound. The melody grips you. As the track continues you get a more theatrical sound as more layers are added. The vocalist really shows off his range and the intensity that he can convey.

"Semaphore" is a beautifully crafted album that hits high arching melodies but mixes them with heavy instrumentals to give the album a duality of bright and dark tones. They also add audio overlays that compliment the music they produce. The album itself has a very bright ambience with moderate melancholic tones to add to the depth of the sound. In a way, this album is all over the place and that's awesome. The layers they put into each and every track paired with the complex transitions make this one of my favorite albums of 2020 so far. And I do not say that lightly. If you have never heard of this band or even if you have, make sure you go check this album out. This is one that you don’t want to miss!

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Emissaries
2. Singularity
3. Natural Selection
4. Motorcade
5. Red Waves
6. Heliopause
7. WInter Keeps Us Warm
8. Dust
9. Faces
10. Death From Above
11. Evergreen
12. Monolith
13. Crash
Paul Visser – Vocals/Guitars
Dave Ferguson – Bass/Vocals
Billy Freedom – Drums
Record Label: Long Branch Records


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