Oruga - Blackened Souls (Apathia Records)

Surprisingly excellent French doom...
Release Date: 
18 May 2014 - 11:30pm

French outfit Oruga are treading a well worn path. Mixing sludge, doom and stoner styles might have sounded like the thing to do when the band formed in in 2010; However every other bugger knocking on MaF’s door these days has some sort of take on this sonic hybrid, and points of difference between all the acts performing in this arena are few and far between. Do Oruga bring anything different to the sludge party?

Actually, they do. A little bit anyway. They certainly possess the heaviness required to hold their own against the more well-known acts that dominate the territory they’re fighting for, but – and this is a big plus as far as this reviewer is concerned – despite being as desolate as the next man, and the possessors of a sound the band themselves describe as ‘elephantine’, midway through epic third track Dead Among the Living the band unsheathe a hitherto unhinted-at understanding of melody, which frankly blows the whole game wide open for these boys. Said melody is deployed at JUST the right time in the song, betraying songwriting smarts that many other sludge/doom bandwagoneers just don’t possess. It’s fleeting – only a couple of minutes in duration – but it’s enough to suggest that these particular jeune hommes might just have a little extra up their sleeves for future delectation.

Sluggardly fourth track Disciples is also hugely appealing; More in line with what you’d expect of a young band operating in this area but again done with just a little extra panache and conviction. The guitars of Julien L and Fred P weave in and out of one another with supreme precision, bludgeoning your senses before dropping into a neat harmony lead that you weren’t expecting while vocalist Cedric M howls like a wounded lion over the top of it all. Cedric is something of a find – he’s got an exceptionally versatile set of pipes that means he can handle the sudden melodic darts effortlessly – the fact that this album was recorded completely live in the studio gives further testimony to his exceptional ability.

Marvellous stuff then, and certainly worth a try if you like the sludge/doom genre – doubly so if you don’t mind a bit of melody in your madness too.