Album Review:  DROTT — “Orcus”

Ready for something different, otherworldly, fresh and new?  Let me tell you about DROTT and this three-man band’s first full length release Orcus.  The band hails from Bergen in the west coast of Norway and is inspired by nature, superstition, and spirituality.  The album title is after Orcus, god of the underworld, punisher of broken oaths.  While this namesake brings dark themes and undertones, the feel of the album is not as heavy as one might think.  Musical style influences include metal, progressive rock, jazz, folk, classical and each influence can be detected throughout these compositions.  This makes it hard to classify the release, but I think part of the beauty of the album is that it does not NEED to be classified since it does not fit perfectly into any box and brings a little something for everyone.

Orcus consists of 10 quick tracks with the longest spanning seven minutes and a total runtime of just under 40 minutes.  Each piece flows so perfectly into the next that the album could just be one long song.  The movement of Orcus is harmonious and is constructed just right to emotively tell a story and keep the listener’s attention peaked.  The album is mainly instrumental with some vocalization and one track, “Katabasis,” that features a smattering of quiet singing.  Even in this piece, the instrumentals are the focal point and rightfully so as the sonic sound created by DROTT is hauntingly unique.  This is no surprise as the band is comprised of master musicians Arve Isdal (Enslaved), Ivar Thormodsæter (Ulver) and Matias Monsen.  

The album opens with reverberating vocalization and violin creating a bewitchingly eerie and ethereal vibe.  This opening track welcomes an electric guitar melody before the vocalization rises and takes over with a pitch perfect high note before flowing seamlessly into the following piece.  While the songs flow beautifully together, each track is very different and adds something new along the way.  The first single and video released from Orcus was “The Marauders” which features atmospheric enhancements like the creaking of wood and metallic screeching.  Low vibrating vocalization is heard before drumming and electric guitar is introduced.  The song is foreboding and mysterious.  The second single release was “Arch of Gloom” and highlights more of a progressive rock sound.  This track is lighter and quirky.  Both videos showcase a forest but hold very different imagery otherwise.  The video for “The Marauders” is dark and unsettling in heavily contrasted black and white with images juxtaposed on top of one another, shaky shots, and fake baby dolls hanging from trees.  The video for “Arch of the Gloom” is in color showcasing a lush green forest with images of the band members dapperly dressed and wearing plague doctor-esque raven masks.  These images perfectly suit each track and further show the diversity of the album.

DROTT

DROTT formed in 2020—something good that happened in the global pandemic—and released a self-titled EP earlier this year in March.  The band has not slowed down since their start, and Orcus is a testament to how passionate and hard working this trio is.  I love how unique and diverse this album is and it is always amazing to see instrumental bands thrive without the addition of vocals.  Vocal tracks are not missed—the instrumental variety and composition makes for a compelling and captivating listen.  Orcus is dynamic and beautiful as well as haunting and dramatic.  Enjoy the mystifying story and the unique music of DROTT.

– Angela


Orcus is available now on By Norse.  For more information on DROTT, visit their Facebook page.

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