Orchid – Totality


I’ve spent the past couple of days wondering whether I could actually put into words how I feel about the band Orchid. Its music has meant so much to me since the very first time I saw the band play at an art space sometime in the fall of 1998. I had already spent a couple of years trying to collect every single record that Gravity put out in the early to mid 90s, from Angel Hair and Mohinder to lesser-known yet still amazing bands such as Second Story Window and Evergreen. I was sure that the days of this kind of fucked-up, noisy, and frantic hardcore were long gone and that they had been replaced by soulless metallic hardcore bands that would later go on to fill up space on MTV and the pages of shitrags like Alternative Press. This was right before I also discovered The Locust and Reversal of Man, which would prove to me that there was not only life after the fall of Gravity Records but also passion and innovation.

Nothing could have demonstrated this better than seeing Orchid totally obliterate everything I ever thought was possible within the genre in one show. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I walked in to the venue after taking a stroll down the sidewalk to get a soda, I could have sworn that Mohinder had been resurrected and placed right in front of me. Orchid’s singer was wearing a shirt that read “Eat Shit and Die,” this was the summation of how I felt about people and the world in general after just completing high school. The band members thrashed around violently as if it was the end of the world and we were all going down with them. High-pitched screams mixed with guitar shrapnel, devastating bass lines, and blast beats to form the perfect synthesis of the chaotic hardcore I had worshipped for so long. After the show I sat down and talked to its members almost as if to reassure myself that they were real humans and not some gods sent here on a path to fucking destroy everything in sight. Not only was the music incredible, but these were some of the nicest people that I had come across, and they were normal and had real problems just like me.

I returned home and read the lyric sheet to the band’s first self titled 7″ over and over while listening to it. The lyrics weren’t the idiotic messages of punk-rock bands that had said getting drunk and high was the way to forget all of your problems. These were young dudes with intelligent thoughts that they had translated into this wonderful whirlwind of thrashy noise to drill into my fucking skull. Needless to say, I wore that record out, along with Orchid’s split records with Pig Destroyer, Encyclopedia of American Traitors, Jerome’s Dream, and The Red Scare as well as the Chaos is Me; Dance Tonight Revolution Tomorrow 10″ and the final self-titled full-length. It would be an understatement to say that there has been no other band ever that has meant that much to me and that I have enjoyed its entire catalog.

How many other hardcore bands have there ever been that name drop Nietzsche, Foucault, and Camus along with memorable refrains like “They motherfucked you all!”? Orchid appeals to all fans of screamy, passionate hardcore by blending just the right amount of crust, chaos, arty pretension, and deafening volume. Its members have shared romantic notions with us such as “let’s hold hands and blow this town up, you and me and some dynamite,” the likes of which would have Homeland Security shitting their pants if it they ever came true.

The Totality CD collects all of Orchid’s splits and compilation tracks onto one indisputably perfect piece of plastic. The booklet that comes with it has the lyrics reprinted along with the original artwork from all of these releases. Did I forget to mention that there is also one unreleased track that was meant for the Fuck Boston This is Amherst compilation that never saw the light of day? It is a little number called “T-120,” that was recorded during the Chaos is Me ,sessions so you know that the quality is damn near impeccable thanks to Kurt Ballou’s production skills.

I shouldn’t have to tell you that this record is worth purchasing. I know some of you have probably been waiting as long as I have to for this to see the light of day. It is nice for all of us without functioning record players to get to enjoy the rock again. If I could put a reissue on my top-ten list then this would be number one for 2005, no kidding. If you have never heard Orchid and you love screamy chaotic hardcore and noise, then this is an absolute necessity for any record collection.