It’s hard to know exactly where to start with Orphan, the relentless debut by Plague Organ whose membership unsurprisingly ties to Dead Neanderthals. That band’s side projects and collaborations are now so numerous they’re hard to keep track of but if a release mentions free jazz, black metal, the word “extreme” and the Netherlands in its press notes you can be fairly certain Dead Neanderthals are involved on some level. Here it is drummer Rene Aquarius, providing a hypnotic 40-minute blast beat over which a succession of unholy growls and trance-inducing effects are laid to ever-increasing psychedelic intensity.
Honestly, you could drop the needle anywhere here and get a seriously bloody nose. The brutality is unceasing, the wheeling turbulence dizzying and the sheer force quite frankly awe-inspiring. It’s the heaviest part of the heaviest song you’ve ever heard drawn out ad infinitum – even at the close, the best part of an hour after the briefest groan of introductory throat singing is thumped into silence, the impression is that the tape simply quits in an overwhelmed tangle of abject exhaustion.
At first the vocals are limited to nauseated booms, leering and lurching surfacewards as though infuriated into wakefulness after centuries dormant. It’s a losing battle – Aquarius’ drums actually seem to pick up power and pace as the time passes, striking hard from all angles as sawing drones and disembodied hums build a mighty wall behind. Halfway through you won’t believe you’re only halfway through; by the end you’ll be struggling to take everything in.
It’s the sort of thing you’ve only previously heard made for kicks: think Francisco López’s awesome “Untitled #104,” produced from an unknown number of black metal samples to stun audiences expecting to experience his usual hour of meditative life sounds, or something from Field Hymns’ offshoot metal jape Death Treat Records, for which various synth-scene tricksters goof out with metal under names like Carniwhore, Xenoxoth and Venereal Equinox. But the only kick here is the one upside your cranium; Plague Organ are burning genuine trails, not trouncing around in crop circles.