Ouch! 

Orthrelm Hurts So Good

ARE YOU THE TYPE of person who looks forward to your yearly dental appointment? Would your mother be wealthy if she had a dime for every time she said, "Don't pick at that"? Do you enjoy the occasional flogging? Well then, my masochist friend, do I have the band for you!

Only in the high-frequency blowouts of obscuro aural extremists like Whitehouse or Maryanne Amacher has such challenging and idiosyncratic music been allowed to see the light of day. Guitarist Mick Barr and drummer Josh Blair are caught up in a frenzied limbo between dissonant jazz and hyper-composed speed metal. As one astute fan put it, "It sounds like they're playing someone's nervous system," and that's about as neat of a summation of Orthrelm as you're likely to find.

Barr, the prime architect of this ungodly assault, is clearly a man with a singly unyielding vision. From his early days with Crom-Tech (a duo that sounded... well, a lot like Orthrelm) to the self-penned artwork that graces all of Barr's releases (resembling alien hieroglyphics crossed with microscope slides), it's evident that the man is coming from a place all his own. Orthrelm's newest album, OV, is, not surprisingly, yet another slab of unrelenting, outsider noise eruption. In contrast to the band's challenging back catalog, though, OV is by far the easiest pill to swallow yet. (2002's, Asristir Vieldriox for example, is a 99-track mind-fuck, the longest piece clocking in at 14 seconds.) The album, released on Mike Patton's Ipecac label, is a one-"song" exercise in consummate minimalism, as one aberrant, jackhammer rhythm melts into the next. Still, this ain't no easy listening. Orthrelm, thy name is pain and we love you for it!

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