Album Review: Semaphore // Black Orchid Empire

Black Orchid Empire have created quite the wave over the past few years. The band, which consists of Paul Visser (vocals/guitars), Dave Ferguson (bass/vocals), and Billy Freedom (drums) create a fearless sound full of nasty riffs and a strong Tool influence. They released their second album ‘Yugen’ on Long Branch Records and have played at Download, Camden Rocks while also touring with HED p.e. Their sound is engrossing because it’s full of melodic hooks and powerful guitars.  It’s amazing that a trio can create a full sound and make it beefy.

Semaphore builds on their sound with even catchier hooks. I feel that it’s an album that gets better the more you listen to it. It amplifies the distortion, combining it with complex time signatures and beautiful melodic vocals. There are some pretty awesome prog riffs that take you on a journey. An example of this is recent single ‘Evergreen.’ The song has a calming riff, while Paul’s soothing vocals create a strong impact. The solo incorporates an odd time signature which changes the complexion of the song. ‘Singularity’ in comparison, is a bit heavier because it features a monsterous riff. I love the china cymbal in the breakdown because it emphasizes their new, heavy sound.

I think that ‘Sempahore’ builds on the bands’ melodic tendencies while also being even heavier than before. ‘Winter Keeps Us Warm’ is my favourite song on the album. The chorus is the catchiest the band have written: “Winter keeps us warm / Frozen in her arms.” The “wooah’s” work very well because they make the song sound like it could be in an arena.

I think that ‘Semaphore’  shows where Black Orchid Empire are heading. I think they will gain a load of new fans because their catchy anthemic choruses have mass appeal.


Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

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