Review by Felix on September 19, 2019.
Orlog is one of these bands that came out of the blue, caused an enormous impact and vanished into thin air again. Just like a phantom, they left no trace, but two albums serve as proof that they really existed (or even still exist and operate covertly). Reinigende Feuer, the debut of this pretty unapproachable formation, houses coherent songs which deliver a strict overall impression without neglecting some occasionally desperate vibrations. Don't get me wrong, the sometimes-exuberant tunes are light years away from suicidal or depressive black metal; violent rage characterizes many parts of the output. Anyway, it is just a fact that Reinigende Feuer does not pull all its eggs in one basket.
One of the most vehement tracks is my personal highlight "Untergang" is kicked off by a minimalist but effective riff and it leads directly to a blast beat driven section. A devastating storm is unleashed, and it takes more than two minutes before the Germans slow down the mind-blowing tempo. But the following break does not hurt the quality of the piece. Instead, it gives the lead singer the possibility to choose a more charismatic mode of expression. Anyway, the best feature of this song is the killer riff at the beginning, which reappears during the song at adequate intervals. Yet "Untergang" is not the über-song on this album that overshadows the remaining material. Some further tracks like "Aufbruch" with its very insistent parts almost reach the same level of pure force. By the way, "Aufbruch" also holds some rather elegiac parts - and they suit the approach of the band more or less perfectly. Another question is whether the pretty poetic, nearly philosophical lyrics fit the musical context. Yet this problem probably does not occur outside of the German-speaking area.
What I like very much is that the debutants do not need a warm-up period. Right from the beginning, a sinister guitar introduces the audience to the dark, natural regions of Orlog's art. The vocalist adds the proper amount of pain and suffering so that he complements the musically created mood very well. This is not to say that the raw voice lacks aggression - the lead singer finds the right balance. Moreover, a fine sense for the right degree of fairly melodic parts should be mentioned as well. Orlog's core competency is the excessive use of their instruments in the most intensive manner and with that said, it is a pity that a small number of tracks are definitely good, but they do not leave a long-lasting effect. Yet this criticism does not relate to the first three tracks - all of them work like the sonic reflection of fury and restlessness. The only piece which cannot keep up the pace of the remaining tracks finishes the debut. "Stille" (= silence) is more or less fittingly titled and seems to symbolize the calm after the storm with regard to some emotional guitar melodies, but it also shines with high speed sections.
The production is acceptable. The density of the album is at the expense of clarity and the drums would have deserved a better sound. Anyway, the technical framework does not affect the joy of listening. All in all, this album offers a furious, sometimes apocalyptic form of pure black metal. At the same time, Reinigende Feuer does not spread any kind of proletarian or antisocial vibes. Instead, the album is enriched with a small number of melancholic elements. This mix works and brings a handful of fantastic songs to light. No doubt, these "cleansing fires" have a cathartic effect. Check it out and let's hope that Orlog reappear one day.
Rating: 9.1 out of 10