Amber Grey by far and wide, is renowned for being a technical masterpiece of mind blowing proportions. Backed by a legendary cast, Gridlink put 2008 in the history books, by recording a release that offered a technical masterpiece in a fast paced rhythmic manner, the end product being the grindcore equivalent of Paganini's 24 caprices. Of which their 11 minutes of splintering precision trumped the decades of effort of contenders and was named in true democratic fashion the King's of Grind. So the very thought and anticipation of Amber Grey's heir; Orphan, was enough to send large chunks of the Grindcore community in a spiritual state of zen whilst drooling and muttering babel and the very thought of it. So how did this second heir to the third Chang Dynasty fare?
Basically this is everything Amber Grey was, this time round one minute longer, packed with more dexterous precision, harmonious flow and enough condensed passion to inspire a thousand playwrights.
Jon Chang as ever screams forth his inner nerd in a blazing series of shrieks all of which coded in an enigma and flurry of obscure cultural referencing, leaving each new deciphered word to askew your original interpretation of the message. Heavy on the treble guitar work weaves in and out of various moods, retaining that riff and shred inducing cacaphonic bliss and admiration that made we were first plunged out of the blue head first back in 08.
The drum works beats frantically in a scattering, yet somehow military precision (S.A.S. styled) coordinated rampage, creating an immediate sense of urgency, and pincering down the rate of fire that is discharged to a recognisable level. Vocals are the same vocal chord shredding we expect and love, this time round on occasion sporting the rare low pitched bellow to reflect the moments of a dark mood.
Now this next bit in the review is probably the moment I am going to regret and receive hate mail from the John Chang cult for the next dozen years, or until the Phelps idiocracy finally pick a bone with grindcore.
Although I would agree 100% that Orphan is more precise, technical, faster, coordinated and overall better on a theoretical basis. I can't help but feel they abandoned or left out the aggressive overtones they had back in Amber Grey. This feels more to me like a Hayaino Daisuki meets some elements of grindcore release than what I felt they offered earlier. It was the aggression of Amber Grey, whether intentional or a byproduct of what they did that grounded it all and gave it a direction I really liked, this time round the aggression has been superseded with a frantic feel of mixed emotion with a gross discharge of adrenaline, which I must commend is executed fantastically and they really do immerse the listener in such a vibe, just I personally preferred the emotive threading of the earlier. Perhaps I am just the odd one out on this one.
In any case, Orphan is a fantastic release that does not fail in expanding on everything that made Gridlink the masters of the realm and without a doubt is up there in the albums that people will idolise decades afterwards, unless of course the Chinese World Empire of 2045 doesn't wipe it out.