After several trips into the world of jazz and experimental music, Spain's ORTHODOX return with their fourth album, 'Baal', to the heavier riff-oriented side of their music. This certainly does not mean that this album is full of catchy melodies, but it's definitely more accessible and almost easy to digest. Nevertheless, first and foremost 'Baal' is a strange bastard that follows his own rules. It becomes very clear when the first track, 'Alto Padre', sparkles from the speakers. Despite the fat warm fuzzy bass sound, it is ORTHODOX at their most experimental. Here is still a very slight jazz influence, but in actual fact it manages not to fall into a certain category.
This is followed by 'Taurus', which, in contrast to the opening track, is a lot more structured. There are spine-rattling riffs while the bass is loud and crunchy, much like Al Cisneros' bass on Sleep, only a bit more weirder. But there are also some surprisingly quieter guitar sounds, which are not especially peaceful. It's more that they strengthen the cavernous, otherwordly atmosphere, but not only of this song. Neither should we forget the bizarre preacher-like vocals of bassist Marco Serrato Gallardo as well as B. Díaz Vera, whose jazz-infected drums seems to live a life of its own. Basically, this applies to the whole record, with the exception of the last 14 minute song, 'Ábrase la Tierra'. Suddenly, a sinister organ appears from the darkness and fills the space of the cavern with a morbid vibe, while guitarist Ricardo Jiménez Gómez comes up with some earth-shaking riffs. Towards the end of 'Ábrase la Tierra', ORTHODOX show that they take much pleasure in noise and dekonstruktion, too.
The biggest surprise though was 'Hani Ba'al' that is more straightforward than anything else here. I would even go so far as to say that this is their first hit single. But seriously, there is no jazz and no sonic experiments. Now who would have guessed that! With 'Baal', ORTHODOX demonstrates again their exceptional status, even if this is like witnessing Sleep jamming in the midst of a collapsing black hole or something similar. The band's successful combination of different musical styles is unique and they manage to develop a new archaic approach to their music. Yes, I think it's their best album so far, but I wouldn't be surprised if their next release goes in another direction entirely because that is what is expected of ORTHODOX.