Ortega album review – Sacred States

Psych/sludge nirvana dredged up from the Netherlands by Ortega. Read our album review here...

Ortega album cover

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Released nigh-on seven years ago, Ortega’s debut album, 1634, saw the the Dutch band take the glacial sludge sound in an exhilarating new direction, spacing out their crushing riffs with interludes of mesmerising grooves and prismatic experimentalism.

With Sacred States, Ortega expand that starry-eyed vision with nearly an hour of riff-powered voyaging across six wholly ambitious tracks, not least Crows, a transfixing, 18-minute headtrip that unfurls from a bluesy, psychedelic hymn into an eruption of hooks so big that the song should be played from the top of a mountain. Offsetting the album’s primal heaviness with flourishes of luxuriant atmospherics and soulful melodies, tracks like Descending Ladders and Maelstrom showcase Ortega’s appetite for innovation and their mastery of using shifting tempos and gigantic climaxes to invest these tracks with a fiendishly skewed sense of time and space. Required listening for any sludge or psych-metal enthusiast.

Joe Daly

Hailing from San Diego, California, Joe Daly is an award-winning music journalist with over thirty years experience. Since 2010, Joe has been a regular contributor for Metal Hammer, penning cover features, news stories, album reviews and other content. Joe also writes for Classic Rock, Bass Player, Men’s Health and Outburn magazines. He has served as Music Editor for several online outlets and he has been a contributor for SPIN, the BBC and a frequent guest on several podcasts. When he’s not serenading his neighbours with black metal, Joe enjoys playing hockey, beating on his bass and fawning over his dogs.