Seville, Espania. Pre-Orthodox: not ordinarily the kind of location one would associate with rock & roll salvation! After repeated exposure to “Gran Poder” (Southern Lord) – let’s call this state of mind Post-Orthodox – you may well want to tailor your opinion to suit.
The first thing worth noting about Orthodox is that they are blatantly anything but! Accepted, well established, accustomed, ordinary, authorized, conformist, mainstream, customary, established, conservative, approved, normal, official, common, prevailing, recognized, standard, traditional, regular – all are perfectly reasonable definitions of the word – but Orthodox are about as regular as the Moroccan troops without whom Franco would never have come to power!
Sonically, Orthodox weld tectonic-plate-sized helpings of Sabbath, Melvins, Earth & Sleep to the very bones of sunn 0))). The vocals, eerily reminiscent of “Metal Box”/”Flowers Of Romance” era PiL, however, are what really mark Orthodox down as a stand-alone-unit. Slower than the horse I backed in last week’s Grand National - & heavier than the slab of granite that fell on my foot last week at work – Orthodox have made one of the most immensely gratifying LPs created this side of the line in the sand marked AD2000.
Initially championed/discovered by Julian Cope, the Arch Drude has since been waging a one-man-crusade (a pagan one, admittedly!) on behalf of Orthodox - www.headheritage.co.uk/unsung/albumofthemonth/1494 - that has landed them a deal with Southern Lord & a re-release for “Gran Poder” in it’s ‘North American Version’ (including a bonus track – a cover of Venom’s “Genocide” on the CD - & a cover of Sabbath’s “Black Sabbath” on the vinyl version).
Jean Encoule talks to Orthodox:
trakMARX - What's the history behind the formation of Orthodox?
Orthodox - Two of us (guitar and bass) played together in another band - then we met the drummer through the www.stonerrock.com forum. We found he was living in the same city, so after talking about music, we met for a jam. We knew instinctively we should put something together because things worked out well from the very first moment.
trakMARX - What sacred musical influences do you hold close to your hearts?
Orthodox - We have an open concept of sacred music. John Coltrane or Sleep played sacred music. We listen to composers like Perotin, Biber or Bach – who all made some great sacred music. We also like some processional folk music from our town. You know, Eastern Andalusian music for cornets and drums?
trakMARX - What external (i.e - non musical) influences have also shaped Orthodox's sound?
Orthodox - Umm, that’s hard to say. We read a lot of different stuff – but, as anyone else, we’re influenced by the place we live: our families, friends . . . life! I couldn’t single out one thing besides music. Maybe our folklore - but music is part of that too!
trakMARX - Tell us about your home town & what the local scene is like?
Orthodox - The local scene in Sevilla sucks. Sucks a lot. It’s full of shitty, ignorant musicians with a painful lack of taste - or creativity! You can find some good flamenco artists - or something like that - but rock? Everything sucks - but we don’t give a shit. We don’t feel the need to change anything!
trakMARX - Does Spain have a healthy metal underground?
Orthodox - Things seem to be changing. There are some good metal bands working hard in Spain. We can’t give you a precise overview because we don’t listen that intently. Suffice to say things are getting better: Viaje a 800, Warchetype, Moho, Glow, Reznik, Adrift, El Páramo . . . they´re all doing a fine job!
trakMARX - How did it feel being 'discovered' by Julian Cope - & are you fans of his music/art?
Orthodox - Julian´s performance at the Spoken Word festival in Sevilla is one of the best acts we’ve ever seen in our lives. He’s a real poet: a shaman, a warrior, a druid - call it what you want. How many musicians from his generation are so immersed in the underground scene? He enjoys life and music like a newborn child! You can feel it in his work: his music, his poetry – hell, even his reviews! He has created a world where everything, every detail, has sense/meaning/import. Nothing is for free - and it works! Of course, we´re massive fans of his art.
trakMARX - Tell us about the recording process that captured "Gran Poder" so effectively?
Orthodox - It was recorded, mixed and mastered in just two days. The songs were recorded live, just the three of us playing together in the studio. People seem to prefer to listen to artificial albums these days. “Gran Poder” is not perfect - but it is real!
trakMARX - The LP's title translates into English as 'Great Power' - to what does this refer?
Orthodox - “Gran Poder” is the name of a well-known Christ figure from our town. Jesús del Gran Poder - the Lord of Sevilla! It’s a concept of heaviness! It just sounded ultra-heavy and tied in with our religious folklore. Just like the album!
trakMARX - How did you get involved with Southern Lord?
Orthodox - I’m sure that Julian’s review had a lot to do with that! Also, Miguel from Alone Records did a fantastic job looking out for the group’s interests. Of course, I guess that Greg Anderson liked the album - but it was primarily a thing between labels, you know?
trakMARX - Will you be recording the follow up for them?
Orthodox - The second album - “Amanecer en Puerta Oscura” - was recorded last December and it’s supposed to be released next May. A few tracks can be heard at: www.myspace.com/orthodoxband
trakMARX - Do you have any plans to tour live this year in support of "Gran Poder"?
Orthodox - We’ll play at Roadburn and Hellfest. We have some other shows coming up in Spain and Portugal - but there’s no official tour confirmed yet.
trakMARX - What next for Orthodox?
Orthodox - We love recording the shit in our heads - so we’d like to record as much as possible. Time will tell . . .
Jean Encoule – tMx 29 – 04/07