Clean Plate (2005)
Screaming has become so passe. Emotive hardcore, screamo, emo-violence or whatever have fallen on deaf ears(and somewhat deservedly so) in the past few years. This branch on the punk/hardcore tree withered away in the late 1990s only to be resurrected and botanically bastardized by nu-screamo also-rans.
Cynicism. A key element of this genre. Some did it well/tongue-in-cheek while others bordered on evangelism.
Amherst, Massachusetts natives Orchid were one of the few that did their thing extremely well (1998-2002). Initially dismissed by hardcore purists as being "too artsy" or "too gender confused", Orchid carved a path of brutality that very few have matched. Totality serves as a compilation of their rare and out-of-print releases (from split 7-inches and semi-obscure comps). With 24 tracks clocking in at a mere 37 minutes, time is of the essence and this essence is a pummeling attack of intelligent hardcore. It's not surprising that most of the band members attended the lefty/liberal Hampshire College while playing in Orchid. Lead vocalist Jayson Green's lyrics reference writers/philosphers Foucault, Camus, and Marcuse to name a few. However the material does not come across as elitist. The songs just make you wanna dance your ass off and smash things while sipping green tea and reading Flaubert. It's not that surprising that these guys caught some flack from the "Joey Hardcore tuff-guy"-types though. The songs on Totality are extremely confrontational and certainly challenge complacency, musically and academically(topics often missed by said genre). Oh yeah, and Green tends to obsess/revel in topics of sexuality(bi and hetero) as well as earthy carnage, nihilism, and morbid affairs of the heart.
The only gripe outsiders/newbies to this brand of music might have is that the lyrics are somewhat unintelligible. But then again this is hardcore after all, so suck it up! The impact that Orchid has had on the current crop of screamers is blatantly obvious(I'm looking at you Blood Brothers, smirk). The majority of the tracks on Totality are solid while a few kind of bleed into one another. Standout songs include "New Ideas in Mathematics", "She has a cold, cold Heart", "Panopticism", and their 'classic' "Weekend at the Fire Academy". The packaging (blood red jewel case) mirrors their Dance Tonight/Chaos is Me album released a few years back by the hallowed Ebullition label. The artwork borders on the macabre and contains rare live photos of the band flailing around. Overall a solid purchase for any Orchid devotee or fan of abrasive music(Saetia, Mohinder, Don Caballero, etc). Members of Orchid are still active in such diverse bands as Panthers, Ampere, and Transistor Transistor.
So next time you see that damn Hawthorne Heights or Thursday video on FuseTV you can shake your head in utter disdain. Remember kids, always mosh intelligently!