Published Feb 04, 2020Orthodox are from Nashville, TN; Orthodox make nu-metal music, unabashedly so; Orthodox are a straight-edge band; Orthodox are one of the weirdest bands on the planet.
Their debut, Sounds of Loss, showed vast promise throughout 2017, fusing a mixture of JNCO-clad nu-metal grooves and digestible hardcore songwriting that was mostly a cut above what their genre peers had to offer. Returning this year with their sophomore LP, Let It Take Its Course, Orthodox's framework has not changed much, but the performance is far better realized.
This effort is evident from the trance-y, industrial pounding of the introductory "Remorse," where vocalist Adam Easterling whispers the album's title over grinding feedback, feeling like an outright attempt at hypnosis. By fourth track "Leave," their use of droning guitar strums builds tension, ultimately paying off with a breakdown so crushing that it feels psychotic.
Let It Take Its Course is Orthodox not only trying to keep up with what worked about their debut, but forging new directions for the band. With that, not everything lands on its feet. On "Cut," Easterling's vocals enter balladry territory — an excellent tool used later in the record — but when coupled with high-gain guitar work and pummelling slam riffs, doesn't necessarily bite as hard as the last five songs on this project.
That said, the second half of Let It Take Its Course is remarkably stronger than the entirety of Orthodox's catalogue. "Look at Me" employs driving percussion and System of a Down-esque guitar licks toward a dreary clean passage that recalls Follow the Leader-era Korn, while "Then It Ends" is easily the band's strongest work. Employing the same lyrical concepts that made Sounds of Loss such a chilling listen, Easterling's ghoulish pizzazz is at the forefront. His whispered groaning sounds overtly demonic, thus making the hardest moments all the more terrifying. Drummer Mike White utilizes the bell cymbal to keep time during the title track's opening breakdown, with the group's song structure more intact than ever before. Each time a new dynamic is welcomed to the mid-paced cut, their palette avoids clutter, inducing panic and gratification throughout.
"The Presence" is Orthodox's own "Seven Nation Army," using repetition not out of laziness, but to drive home the end game of inducing insanity, right down to the deathcore-nodding mosh part that concludes it.
What will take listeners by pleasant surprise is Let It Take Its Course's final track, "Wrongs," a piano-based ballad executed to perfection; it's surprising and dazzling. Who knew Easterling could sing so stunningly when not sounding like solitary confinement personified? As pretty as it is bleak, the song is a chilling way to complete the record. Orthodox have affirmed they are a group who can keep up their streak with complete aptitude, and solidified themselves as tastemakers in crafting striking metal music. (Unbeaten Records)