I have been derelict in my duty. The Bay Bridged is a site dedicated to local Bay Area music, and this column, since its inception, has played host to a profusion of national acts, mere visitors upon our salty shores and vertiginous hills. Today l begin to redress that balance, and I couldn't be more pleased to start by showcasing local doom metallers in Orchid.

The doom metal genre has undergone precious few changes since drop-tuning was pioneered by Tony Iommi's missing fingertips, and though unsuccessful stems and seeds have occasionally percolated to the bottom, the ripe buds of the art form -- mammoth, fuzzy minor chords; hard-hitting, groove-oriented drumming -- always seem to smell the same.


(Photo by Raymond Ahner)

You only have to take a quick look at Orchid's belled-out hemlines to see where they draw their inspiration. Singer Theo Mindell, guitarist Mark Thomas Baker, bassist Nickel, and drummer Carter Kennedy each have one foot planted firmly in a rock and roll past, and their tunes hearken back to the golden age of Sab and Zeppelin, evincing a near-religious affinity for that bluesy, hairy Land Before Reagan. Their recent EP Through the Devil's Door (The Church Within Records) delivers exactly the kind of otherworldly sojourn its title suggests, a kind of metal The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe, except that the Wardrobe is an Orange amp and the only talking goats involved sport pendulous bare breasts and owe allegiance to Satan.

[audio: http://www.thebaybridged.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/orchid-01-into-the-sun.mp3]
Orchid - "Into the Sun"

Many reviewers have exhausted their critical faculties figuring out exactly which Sabbath songs Orchid's four tracks evoke, and suffice to say, those reviewers aren't having any fun. Pointing out the similarities between the two bands is like trying to wow a cocktail party full of film critics with your crack analysis of how Gladiator is similar to Spartacus. It's worth mentioning, however, that few bands are as adept at summoning the jazz-inflected 60's phrasings of the Birmingham titans, an accomplishment that is largely due to the rubbery, musical bass playing of Nickel. Either that, or the fact that singer Mindell has been known to break out a pair of maracas in the heat of the live moment.

The EP kicks off with Baker's chunky eighth-note chug on "Into the Sun." Mindell bursts onto the scene shortly after like a church organ -- big brass pipes coated with just enough time and dust. Kennedy's drumming is heavy-handed, comfortable in that stoner-placating grotto right behind the beat, and tastefully uncomplicated, though he deploys thundering tom runs when called upon. Second track "Eastern Woman" is the surefire sing-along, beginning with a haunting sample before settling into a classic shuffle stomp. "Son of Misery," the album's third song, serves as sort of a bridging maneuver, featuring an affecting guitar lead and an eerie vocal that crescendos into "No One Makes a Sound," the epic closer. Built around a pulsating downbeat snare, the final track eventually gives way into a psychedelic interlude, before culminating in a raucous riff explosion.

We can hope for a full-length album soon. In the meantime, you can catch Orchid tonight, Sunday April 11th, at Thee Parkside, opening for fellow local luminaries Slough Feg.

with Bible of the Devil, 8pm, $10, Thee Parkside (1600 17th St., SF)

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