Orgone – The Joyless Parson
Upon first glance, The Joyless Parson is epic in every way; three of the seven tracks are over ten minutes long (one is over fourteen), the lyrics tell one continuous story throughout, and much like a death metal Chinese Democracy, fans have been waiting for Orgone‘s follow-up to The Goliath for three years – a length that is not that abnormal, other than Parson‘s initial release date being 2008. Exploring the LP doesn’t change its scope – this is an “epic” album, but it is what the band does with such a large landscape that sets them apart from any progressive/death metal contemporary; they don’t use it as an excuse to throw in gimmicky sections of music (or use random instruments) just for the sake of it. When pianos and strings are used, it is for a real reason – to evoke emotion. And this is what sets The Joyless Parson apart from its predecessor and contemporaries – every single second of music has purpose.
More impressively, The Joyless Parson only helps to separate Orgone from countless technical metal acts that rely on guitar tricks, polyrhythms, and time signature changes to prove how fast they can play; Orgone’s music relies entirely on themes and top-tier phrasing. It is sometimes easy to get lost in their fills and transitions, mistaking them for new riffs and parts. At the core, it is impossible not to notice their main themes at work, musically and lyrically.
Just like the main change between The Accumulator EP and The Goliath, The Joyless Parson‘s main personnel change is vocalist Geoff Ficco. What he brings to Parson is truly special; even when you can’t understand his desolate, black metal-tinged screams, you can feel them. There are lyrics at work, but they are as much felt as heard, expressed as told. Combined with Ficco’s bottomless growl, the vocals play a major part in not only the storytelling, but the overall music and atmosphere of the record as well. While so many bands use the vocals for the sake of it, Orgone make sure to utilize the capacity of the human voice as an instrument. That is not to say that the band needs another instrument to pick up slack; composition and skill on all instruments is celestial. Drummer Justin Wharton is perhaps the most creative; his ideas and skill behind the kit are pulled from places that rarely metal drummers travel to, only touching upon metal conventions when needed. Andrew Ransom‘s bass playing is dynamic and soulful; his work is sometimes hard to detect, but is undeniably apparent in opener “Scrying” and “Mourn”. Lastly, Stephen Jarrett‘s writing has become cerebral; he is able to fully dictate the mood and lyrical themes through his guitar, using layers as well as any post-anything band, without sacrificing the technical aspect that made their previous releases so special, while simultaneously improving upon them.
“Scrying” immediately demonstrates this; instead of a rabid, technically acute eight-minute epic to start off the experience, the band opts for an intro track that builds into itself, beginning with seemingly isolated instruments, before converging and ending with a crushingly sludgy chord progression. The title track sounds a bit more like the Orgone heard on albums past, but like the rest of the album, its desire for solace leaves a bleak and dark cloud around every note. ”Mourn” is quite possibly the the most impressive track on the album; tribal drums provide a backdrop for what feels like a more realized version of the opening track – each instrument acts on their own accord, before coming together and creating the most accessible music on the disc, without losing integrity (meaning, there are two riffs that you can just picture the kids moshing to, but it hardly panders to them).
“Wailing Wind” acts as a percussion-driven transition into the longest track the band has put to tape to this point; “Void of Course” doesn’t change moods at any point in its fourteen-minute timeframe, but it is highlighted by its beautiful climax; guitars cry in the distance, begging for release. And they get it, with a doomed-out musical sequence that touches on southern dirt rock, before ending with a bass-driven outtro. ”Caress of Vines” enters with beautiful piano, slowly shifting into strings and distant, doomy drums. Its last minute is wholeheartedly endearing and depressing (“The ram, by nature, is a wild and courageous animal, lonely in lonely places, whereas when tamed and made to lie down in green pastures, nothing is left but the docile, cowardly, gregarious and succulent beast.“), leading into the barren landscape that is “Circulated Treason”, in which a man remarks about his emptiness and lack of purpose in life – “But when the sensation has diminished/I feel unworthy of pleasure/a dragon whose heart has bursted/from guarding alone a cache of treasure/which no one values and no one visits.”
What makes The Joyless Parson such a complete piece of art is its musical and lyrical connection; the end of the record is the realization of the beginning. You will be affected.
Along with Periphery and Journal, Orgone have made metal, and “extreme” music, important again. And if Periphery’s debut is the Calculating Infinity of the next decade, The Joyless Parson is certainly its Jane Doe.