Orchid is one of the most heralded bands in the screamo genre. Through countless splits, compilations, 7 inches, and a few LPs, Orchid made a name for themselves at the top of their genre. Since their well-publicized breakup, they’ve split into two bands, Panthers and Wolves, but thankfully for all their fans, Totality is what you’ve been waiting for: A collection of 24 tracks, spanning their entire, albeit short career, including singles, compilation tracks, splits, rarities, and other random songs, and everything has been remastered for pristine sound quality, while maintaining the raw, frenetic feel the band had always given off.
What really set Orchid apart was their absolute, unrelenting passion for the chaotic brand of hardcore they played. Jagged, discordant riffing, and some of the most ear-splitting vocals around are what Orchid was all about. They weren’t the fastest band around, or the hardest by any stretch of the imagination, but the passion in every song is far more captivating than any heavy doom metal riff could ever hope to be.
Every time that I listen to these songs, I’m amazed at how cohesive these band members were with each other, as no matter how frenzied a song would get, the rhythms were tight, the drumming fluid, and the chord progressions slick. For perfect illustration of this, take one listen to “New Ideas in Mathematics,” a track that sets the stage perfectly for the visceral onslaught to come. While the pace originally isn’t as impressive speed-wise as it is with the groove, the last 30 seconds of the song will absolutely blow your mind. Speed, precision and emotion liable to make your head spin. “Beautification Committee” seems to pick up right where “New Ideas…” left off, with cascading drum fills and the maniacal vocal assault of Jay Green. Green sounds like a man possessed in each and every track, with throat-searing vocals that really light a fire under the rest of his band-mates. What’s even more impressive than Orchid’s all-out assault, is how they’re able to tone things down in certain instances, not losing any momentum, but instead heightening the mood.
“She Has a Cold, Cold Heart” has a beautiful piano outro, just long enough for you to catch your breath until “Eye Gouger,” which, even at only 47 seconds, is one of the strongest tracks to be found. The halfway point, “O.S.K.,” seems to show a band slowing down in bit in their attack, and being one of Orchid’s earliest recorded songs, it doesn’t show the developed level of chaos that they had later attained, but it’s still just as emotive, and just as passionate as anything else you’ll find. No matter the different sound quality or level of noise in the various songs, their emotion is a constant. Whether it’s blistering speed, or a band slowing down, Green’s vocals are that of a madman, and the discordant riffing suits that just fine.
Totality isn’t the best collection of Orchid songs; Chaos Is Me takes that crown, but it is a release that takes a comprehensive look at every facet of the band's stages of songwriting. Orchid always was, and always will be the quintessential screamo band of the late 90s, as they encompassed everything people like me love about the genre, and throw their own unique spin on it. Few, if any bands since their 2002 breakup have managed to capture the sheer level of passion those four men put into music, and songs like “Mono vs. Stereo” exemplify this to a tee. Fury, emotion, intensity, it’s all here in spades. Do not pass on this collection, as you’re likely to never find a more surreal level of passion in thirty minutes of music ever again.