Almost exactly 67 years have passed since the last installment of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings was first published in the UK, and almost exactly 21 years have gone by since the world premiere of the first film in Peter Jackson‘s famed movie trilogy based on those novels. And yet of course interest has not waned (witness the popularity of The Rings of Power after its first season), and likely never will.
The creatures, characters, places, and events that populated Tolkien’s timeless writings have become rich fodder for musical artists across many genres, but they’ve probably flourished more in metal than anywhere else. Not surprisingly, metal more than other genres has also been more attracted to the darkness in Tolkien’s worlds, and we have a prime example in the debut album by the Russian solo project Smoke of Isengard. The title itself — Orc Metal — points the way.
The man behind the project is Veralden Olmai, who is also the frontman of the depressive black metal band Internal Cold. But the music he’s chosen to use as the vehicle for tales of orc life in Middle Earth takes a big stride away from the soundscape of Infernal Cold. And to get in the proper mood, Veralden donned (both figuratively and literally) a complete set of hand-crafted Uruk-Hai combat armor based on Jackson‘s movies.
Almost all the songs in Orc Metal are performed in the Russian language, and we’re told that they narrate “individual stories from the point of view of the orcs, whether it is the story of a dwarf hunter whose piercing cry was heard by a couple of orcs from a wild valley, or a campfire story of a horror experienced in an ancient forest”.
So the music takes a big stride away from Infernal Cold, but where does it land? You could call Smoke of Isengard‘s music “stoner death” — fat riffs rendered through classic Orange amp heads and cabinets and the kind of beastly growls that would make George Fisher or Chris Barnes feel at home — but with some bits of grindcore violence in the mix because, after all, we’re talking about orcs.
The song we’re premiering today, “Dwarf Hunter“, is a fine example of this amalgam, presenting thick, woozy, head-moving riffs, gut-slugging bass grooves, skull-cracking drums, and growls from the festering depths of Isengard. The music has a primitive, lumbering, and lethal quality, but the squirming and swirling leads sound authentically weird and twisted, all the better to insidiously sneak into a listener’s head while the rest of the song lurches and stomps.
Perhaps needless to say, the song is damned catchy too, but vile, gruesome, and a bit wretched as well, just as it should be.
Orc Metal will be co-released by Satanath Records‘ sub-label Symbol Of Domination along with with Veralden Olmai‘s Regolith Records on December 10th — the precise anniversary of the 2001 premiere of the first movie in Jackson‘s trilogy. It will be available in CD and digibook formats, and you can check those out via the links below.
We’re also including a stream of the previously released song “Smaug… The Dragon“, which is free to download at Bandcamp.