ORTHON, Transmigrate  (2011, self-released)

The skull:
This cover is chintzy enough, and then they voluntarily add the Parental Advisory banner to uglify things even further. The Chinese are fairly new to this whole underground extreme metal thing, so we can give Orthon some slack, and it’s not the junkiest Photoshop job we’ve seen here at Big Dumb Skulls. It’s in the Top 20 though. I suppose the flared redness behind the skull makes him look ghostly, like he just teleported here, or is teleporting outta Dodge — “transmigrating,” basically. Brilliant. Sort of. Not really.

The music:
Literally decades of listening to metal, like, the vast majority of my life, and this is the first day I’ve ever laid ears on a band from China. To my knowledge, anyway. I would expect it to sound derivative, and it does:  it’s somewhere between Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir with some regrettably shitty female vocals. It’s got the sweeping, theatrical drama of those bands, including the horribly triggered bass drums, and in its best moments recalls late-period Emperor, and sometimes you get a whiff of Arcturus. Some of the harsh vocals actually sound like the dude from Between the Buried and Me. Technically they’re all very good players, so credit where it’s due and for what it’s worth, but it’s still very clone-y, and those female vocals tear down music that is already iffy. Orthon is as appealing to this Friar as something like Old Man’s Child, which is to say it’s not appealing at all. But nice try.
— Friar Wagner