Okay, so let’s start this review off in no uncertain terms – The Grand Wall is a great album. There. I said it.
The songs follow mournful, misery-drenched themes, as is the norm for this style of music, although Ordog seem quite happy to crank up the aggression when they need to. Due to the overall sorrowful atmospheres though, this is a negatively-charged aggression that keeps within the over-arching framework that the band have set for themselves.
The singer’s deep growls are strongly performed and he has a really powerfully-delivered voice. Other vocalisations and low-key cleans are also used to good effect as the occasion warrants.
Keyboards are used for added atmosphere and are embedded into the band’s sound rather than just tacked on at the end. When combined with the crunchy, heavy guitars it makes for songs that are very visceral and involving. Both the keyboards and the guitars are quite inventively played in the sense that there are some quite unusual and engaging sounds being made by the both of them, (more on this later).
The songwriting on The Grand Wall is of a very high calibre. This is the band’s fifth album, so they seem to have learned a thing or two across the years. All of this has been poured enthusiastically into The Grand Wall, making for an extremely enjoyable album.
I like that the songs are heavy mood-pieces that manage to be both massively crunchy and lavishly atmospheric. This is band that can do heavy, textured, rocking, nuanced and rich all at the same time. This, once again, shows the effective working relationship that the guitars and keyboards have.
I can’t praise this music highly enough really. The band have created death/doom songs that manage to transcend the usual death/doom limitations in many ways. Due to this, Ordog are reminiscent of the way that Doomed also stand out from the usual death/doom crowd, (without either band sounding like each other particularly, which is quite an achievement, really, considering the limitations of the sub-genre).
Although the music produced by both bands is of the death/doom style, both manage to do a lot more with the sub-genre’s inherent limitations than almost any other death/doom band. I really enjoy death/doom, but am aware it can be quite samey in places. Somehow Doomed have always managed to be an exception to this by using clever songwriting and injecting interesting ideas in their music. Now that I’ve discovered Ordog, I’m quite happy to make the same claims about them.
The Grand Wall is catchy, memorable and very engaging. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable album that’s wrapped in melancholy and shot through with a firm aggressive streak too.
Very highly recommended.