Like Frodo and Sam, fantasy fiction and metal have long been close companions, with numerous bands taking influence from the works of Tolkien in particular (Gorgoroth, Buzrum, Cirith Ungol to name but a few). Orcrypt are another one of these who are beholden to the dark lord Sauron, although the mildly amusing album title does somewhat undercut their source material’s imperious tone.
Formed in 2010, Balrog & Roll is Orcrypt’s second album, following on from 2015’s Mercenaries of Mordor. Despite the obvious theme developing here, they are not as blackened as you might first think. Opener ‘Oubliette’ sets the scene nicely with some suitably atmospheric keyboards, before ‘The Beholder’ bursts forth with some roaring vocals from new frontman JRR Martin, accompanied by simple yet effective riffing, hinting at more traditional metal sound and approach, before kicking it up a gear with some tasty blastbeats which zip the song along. Most of the songs are similar in nature; guitarist Sammael churning out mid-paced riffs, lolloping along with a distinct groove, some reminiscent of early Motorhead or AC/DC, hinting at punk influences on several occasions, while drummer Ugluk powers away behind the kit. As a band, Orcrypt appear not to take themselves too seriously as beneath the growls, tumultuous drums and buzzsaw guitars lies an album that has a distinct sense of fun. Whether it’s the storytelling or the somewhat unexpected head-nodding riffs, the band do seem to be enjoying themselves.
A solid second outing then and whilst not as raw or as eviscerating a sound as you might expect from a black metal band, does harness enough power, groove, and atmosphere to keep your interest for the whole album.
Balrog & Roll is out now. Buy here: https://www.deathtomusic.com/product/orcrypt-balrog-roll/
Words: Scott Crawford