Order of the Owl + In the Noon of the After Day
Life takes some strange turns, but some things are a long time coming. Sure, there were some good enough reasons for the wait leading up to this review. Truth be told, there were also some others that were a bit more complicated.
For those who may not be aware, Order of the Owl shares a bit of history with another stalwart of the Atlanta scene and like many other fans, I went through the various stages of grieving the departure of bassist/vocalist/psychedelic warlock Brent Anderson from the mighty Zoroaster. Ironically, I had just completed an interview with one of the band members a few months before the split and it seemed that everything was riding high. Without meaning to sound selfish about it, there was a sense of shock, at the very least.
Shortly after news of the split had broken, I was lucky enough to get word that Order of the Owl had come together featuring Brent together with guitarist Casey Yarbrough drummer Corey Pallon. Needless to say, I was extremely stoked to have a sneak preview of the band’s work in the early stages. Apart from being a kick-ass song title, “Cocaine Super Demon pt. 2″ is one a hell of a tune. Being just the one song however, I was wary of forming my opinion of the band in such a limited context. Thankfully, it wasn’t long before the band released their first LP, In the Noon of the After Day.
Digging right in, “Bandsaw” delivers the sort of immediate impact that I had envisioned. Brent Anderson’s deep-fried signature bass tone joins forces with a laid-back, Sabbathian guitar riff, grinding the tempo down to a crawl before kicking into high gear. There’s plenty of the trippy effects and cosmic psychedelia that fans of Brent’s previous work with Zoro would know and love.
“Cocaine Super Demon” ups the stakes and clearly raises itself up as one of the album’s high points. While I wouldn’t call it a “slow burn” by any stretch of the imagination, things really start to gel about a minute thirty in with the introduction of the second main guitar riff. After that, the guys ride the vibe like a magic carpet before it comes to an abrupt halt.
Things get off to a promising start with “Wraith”. The riffs flow effortlessly from guitarist Casey Yarbrough and drummer Corey Pallon makes his presence known here as well. However, it’s also the point at which it becomes difficult to ignore the way that the vocals fit somewhat awkwardly in the mix from time to time. While I wouldn’t say it’s a huge detraction from the overall feel of the album, the first couple of verses of “Wraith” really stick out. It makes perfect sense to have a counter-balance to Anderson’s scalding, arcane vocal delivery with something a bit more mellow but in my opinion, this is one place where things could be improved.
Ironically, the intensity settles down somewhat with “Class War”. It’s a solid tune and all in all, it fits together well with the rest of the album. On the other hand, “Mighty Demon Lover / Dead Trees” seems to wrestle with itself. The song is comprised of two distinct riffs that struggle to find common ground in the context of the song. Even so, there’s no question that there are moments where it runs hot enough to burn.
Although it seems to make a late entrance in terms of the order that the songs were placed, “Cope” works well as a simple but effective acoustic interlude. It’s followed by the album’s title track, “In the Noon of the After Day”. Once again, there’s something ever so slightly off about the vocal delivery to my ear, but the moment the guitars hit, all is suddenly right with the world and Order of the Owl are soaring above it all.
In some respects, this is an album that sounds and feels a bit like a demo. I don’t mean this as any sort of criticism – in fact it’s quite the contrary. This is a recording that captures the essence of the band quite well during an early stage of it’s development. From where I stand, In the Noon of the After Day marks a very auspicious beginning for a band that holds great potential for the future.