I can’t speak Latin, but I can use Google. So I put the words “Tempus Veritas” into the translator. “In Time, The Truth” it came back and it’s a glorious metaphor for this record. A slow burner, but each time you listen to it, it reveals something new.
Everything there is to love about Black Orchid Empire comes together in one wonderful four minutes called “Hydrogen” a track that showcases the band’s ability to blend different elements of rock music seamlessly. The thickness of the groove mixed with the fragility of the verse – the first line of the record is “when I die” and surely that is a prime example of the darkness. The song starts off with a heavy, almost ominous groove, but then transitions into a delicate and vulnerable verse. It’s a juxtaposition that works incredibly well and showcases the band’s ability to balance different sounds.
“The Raven” is another that defies traditional rules of rock music. It has a massive, expansive sound, but there’s heavy groove when it needs to be is perfectly balanced with a sweetness that adds a special flavour.
What is staggering considering how massive all this sounds, is that there’s only three of them, but then, being hard to pin down has been something of a stock in trade for BOE since their debut in 2016. Bands they’ve supported include Skunk Anansie, HED p.e, INME and Black Map – and if there’s nothing in common with those, then you can bet your life that BOE would have fitted in. When you sound like nothing else, you can fit in everywhere.
So it is that “Last Ronin” has touches of Muse, with Paul Visser giving it is best Matt Bellamy, while “Scarlet Haze” is a typical arena-dwelling crossover with a big ballad feel, and “Deny The Sun” is a modern metal song that features an unsettling breakdown. It’s a testament to the band’s ability to create tension and release the pressure in unexpected ways.
The single “Glory To The King” is a late 90s throwback with everyone singing like Jeff Buckley, “Summit” is another example of the interesting rhythms found throughout the album. More of “modern” prog, if you will, and “Weakness” is a change in tone, with greater rock energy and the rhythm section of Billy Freedom on drums and bass man Dave Ferguson thunder here.
“Versuvius” is all about the band’s ambition, but more it explores the heavier end of what they do, before “Latimer” is a multi-layered piece that will have you scratching your head trying to figure out what you’ve just listened to. It’s a song that showcases the band’s willingness to experiment and push boundaries. Even if you’re no nearer deciding what you’ve listened to, this is about complexity and depth.
What this isn’t, though – which is odd considering how much is here – is a long album. It’s over and done in less than 40 minutes. Another example, I suppose of how much this enjoys confounding expectations?
And if you’re looking for an easy hook to pin on “Tempus Veritas”, then I am afraid there isn’t one to be had here, but if you’re interested in investing yourself and losing yourself in an album that keeps on giving different things, then Black Orchid Empire are here to help. True originality is hard to find these days. This might just be as close as you can get.