Orme are a doom/drone band from the UK and this is their debut album.
Orme, (featuring a member of Everest Queen), play long-form droning doom, and on their debut album they haven’t held back. Orme only has two tracks, but there’s still 96 minutes of music here. Nazarene is 42 minutes long and Onward to Sarnath is 54 minutes long. Either one of these would have sufficed as the band’s debut album, but apparently Orme don’t do things by halves.
Don’t let the imposing length out you off though, as Orme are also quite proficient at what they do. Drone forms the foundation of the music, onto which structures of post-rock and doom are built. This is then ornamented with deep strains of psychedelia, and calming ambient expressions.
The music builds atmosphere and mood gradually, but effectively. Glacial and unhurried, this is a slow-burning exercise in worldbuilding drone. It’s spacious and carries great depth within its distorted depths, with the band’s expansive and gradual building of mood eventually finding release in one form or another amidst the doomy waters of the music’s ocean. The post-rock elements allow for elongated build/release mechanics, while the psychedelic aspect of the music adds texture to the great swathes of sound.
Nazarene spends the bulk of its duration building to a payoff that’s the sort of heavy doom that Bongripper or Electric Wizard fans should appreciate, mixed with something like the trippy drone of 5ive. For roughly the last 15 minutes or so, this then transforms into the release we’ve been waiting for, a release of glorious DOOOOOM heaviness! There’s even a transcendent solo that squeals, wails, and flails as it shreds.
Prior to this, the track is infested with spoken word – I normally hate, hate, hate spoken word, but on Nazarene it unexpectedly actually fits the music. This is partially down to how well-performed it is, and partially due to how it sounds like an impassioned and dramatic unholy pulpit speech. It works competently with the malevolent, tense musical backdrop, especially when the blackened screams appear. It’s reminiscent of the epic spoken word on Heavy Black Snow by Humanfly, in that it’s a rare example of spoken word being used effectively and to enhance mood, (full disclosure though, it’s not as good as that of Heavy Black Snow, but then nothing is, as that’s my gold standard for spoken word use).
After Nazarene has faded away, Onward to Sarnath ominously begins. Stylistically covering similar ground to Nazarene, it nonetheless has its own feel and character.
This hefty track is bleak and sparse, and has even more of a hazy, ritualistic feel than its predecessor; the brief spoken word segment near the start, the solemn chanting after that, and the use of digeridoo all add to the music’s ceremonials aura. The emphasis here is very much on drone, reminding me once again of 5ive underneath the vocals, which eventually change from chants to more expressive soaring and wailing clean singing – performed not just by the band’s singer, but also guest vocalist Chea Griffin-Anker. I like that as things progress the music becomes progressively more unhinged and unrestrained, while low in the mix are some quite daemonic screams that you nearly can’t hear; almost like a form of sentient static clawing at the underbelly of reality. As these subside, so the music calms. The song ends at the 46-minute mark with an emotive and atmospheric doom metal workout that’s really good. After this we get several minutes of silence, (why bother with this?), before a resumption of drone and spoken word. It’s a slightly disappointing way to finish Onward to Sarnath, considering the actual ending was so strong.
Regardless of this slight misstep, this album is still a compelling release for drone lovers to fall into. Immersive and hypnotic, Orme is a well-realised creation that is absolutely not for everyone – likely not even your casual doom fan – but if you have been inducted into the ways of esoteric doom and drone, then there’s much here worthy of being explored.