Spanish avant-doom act Orthodox have cut their lineup from a trio to a duo – Marco Serrato (bass, vocals) and (drums) – for their first album in four years, Axis. By limiting the guitars to the mantric Medea, partially written 18 years ago and loyal to the free-form progressions of their past, Orthodox sound more potent than before, thanks to Marco Serratos’s bass, with its Warhorse ground-rumble, and drummer Borja Díaz’s fluid, jazzy playing that purposely fills the void in a very direct, upfront fashion.
Yet what’s really exciting about Orthodox how they, with the help of complementary guest musicians, go beyond the forgettable Sleep rip-off Portum Sirenes and experiment with contrasting styles to invert the pillars of doom. Jagged sax stabs through ZU-like bookends Suyo Es El Rostro De La Muerte and Canícula, while ¡Io, Sabacio, Io, Io! is a successful collaboration with Blooming Látigo members, influenced by Gnawa master Mahmoud Guinia. It’s the daring, eclectic nature of songs like these that makes Axis a notable return to consciousness for the ironically named Orthodox.