Tuesday 6 September 2016

ORTEGA - Sacred States (Album Review)

Release date: October 05th 2016. Label: Tartarus Records – Cassette, Consouling Sounds – CD and Narshardaa Records - Vinyl. Format: Cassette/CD/DD/Vinyl

Sacred States – Tracklisting

1.Strong Eye
3.Descending Ladders

Band Members

Richard Postma - Vocals/guitar
Alex Loots - Guitar
Sven Jurgens - Drums
Frank de Boer - Bass


Since 2010, Dutch band Ortega's hypnotising melding of intense doom, sludge, post metal and drone has resulted in a series of excellent releases such as the sublime heaviness of The Serpent Stirs. The bands latest Sacred States has to be their best yet and while it retains the sheer heaviness of their earlier work, it has a slightly more accessible edge to it resulting in a mesmerising and masterful piece of work and guests on the album from the revered Primitive Man and Gnaw Their Tongues add elements to the already huge Ortega experience.

The darkness of humanity is a subject that has long been explored in the worm of Ortega and this continues on Scared States, with the sheer intensity of the music and the roar of vocalist Richard (which are both non-stop on the album) acting as a mirror to the horrors of the world. Sacred States commences with the murkiness of Strong Eye and this opening track opens you up to the abyss that is Ortega. This sprawling track, like the majority of the music of Ortega is at times unsettling but never anything other than engaging and will have your full attention from the start.

Tracks that follow such as the empowering heaviness and hypnotising riffs and grooves of Maelstorm and Descending Ladders are just as powerful as the opening salvo and the power that the songs conjure up is undeniable and shows that with this album Ortega have unleashed an even more severe heaviness and furious ascendancy to their music, while also bringing the right amount of intense melody to the proceedings.

The inclusion of the epic Crows allows the album to take a bit of change of pace and the songs brooding nature brings the heaviness from another angle with its post metal passages interacting with the sludge and doom in the track to mesmerising effect and this a track that just builds and builds until it reaches the most all consuming of crescendos to end what is a truly brilliant song.

Sacred States concludes with the aptly title Void (a song that features Mories from the similarly intense Gnaw Their Tongues) and finishes the album in such a perfect fashion that you can't imagine it ending in any other way, the song is an epic lesson in intensity and harshness that basks in an air of negativity throughout but also includes moments of true beauty (the soaring psychedelic riffs towards the end of the track allow it to take on an air of life affirming glory) although it finishes as only it could, in a swathe of negative anger and a fall into nothingness.

Comparisons to the likes of Neurosis and Amenra are perhaps inevitable as the band have similar influences, directions and outlooks as these two behemoths but Ortega have their own style, own sound and own vibe and are perhaps even heavier than the two but the fact that comparisons are drawn to these giants of heavy music is an indication of how huge this album is .

Sacred States is an intense listen but all the more rewarding for it, with this album Ortega have created a piece of work that encapsulates the overwhelming darkness of the world and humanity itself.

Words by Gavin Brown

Sacred States will be available to release on October 5th 2016 via the following formats and labels: Tartarus Records – Cassette, Consouling Sounds – CD and Narshardaa Records - Vinyl.