Swedish rock and metal always has a special appeal for me, so I was thrilled to discover exciting new Gothenburg band Orochen. The band have honed a dark, atmospheric sound that has a real 2000s post-rock feel alongside folky elements with a post-metal and sludgy edge. Or, as they put it, “apocalyptic post-industrial neofolk.”
The band just signed to Swedish label Suicide Records, which coincided with the release of their latest single, the brilliantly sombre sounding Burial Mounds.
The track opens up with lone drums and a building guitar noise that drops into a lively smash of guitars and drums. They feed into a chorus of laid-back vocals over atmospheric guitars, which culminates in the chorus lines “And they are resting here,They are resting upon ancient lives while the machinery keeps your head up high, And it moves forward getting closer to the end, A kingdom of fast food dreams, They tell you how to feel and how we are supposed to breed, A kingdom of scrap yards upon sacred burial mounds, And it feels just like the right thing here to do.”
The chorus swiftly repeats, then drops into big high-pitched sweeping post-rock guitar noises that drop into a moment of calm recovery. Drums kick in and feed into more powerful repeats of some of the chorus vocals and big guitars to bring the track to a heavy ending. Check it out in the lyric video here:
Burial Mounds is the first track to come from Orochen’s third EP Thylacine, which will be released later this month and we have every reason to be very excited about it. That’s certainly the case based on their previous EP Mechanical Eyes, released earlier this year, from which we love the sound of very post-rocky opening track Dirty Hands. Give it a listen here:
Ahead of the new EP, we had a chat with the band to find out a little more about them and what inspires their music. Read on below…
GR: Who are Orochen?
O: “In the beginning of 2017, we all met in Gothenburg in the old rehearsal room of former post-metal band JURA (that Jonas and Rasmus played in). Then and there some new song ideas were tried out and we all felt that the musical direction was interesting and worth exploring further. Soon after that we had a band name, a vision how we wanted to move forward and the same year we recorded our first tracks that became the self-titled debut EP Orochen.
“The band name comes from an ethnic minority in today’s China. Orochen is a society based on traditional hunter-gatherer values and it is a spiritual shaman people, whom through the settlement policies of the Democratic Republic of China is almost completely assimilated since the 1950’s. The shamans of Orochen saw how the dead affects the living, and how the living affects the dead – how the invisible affects the visible, how the present affects the past and how each action has a reaction. They saw that the world is an illusion where every story hides thousands of other stories and that every truth is built on a thousand lies. And that is what we are all about. Questioning the society, and everything that comes with it – also basic arts like music.”
GR: You just released Burial Mounds. What should people be expecting from the song?
O: “Burial Mounds is the single from the upcoming new EP Thylacine that will be released 18th of September. It is a rock explosion hitting the listener instantly – building up to post-rock climax. The song describes a society governed by consumerism and short-term solutions that leaves no one unaffected – and above all makes the world an eroded and empty place.
“We (mostly Rasmus) recorded it by ourselves in different places close to Gothenburg due to the corona-lockdown at our rehearsal space. For example, the lyrics were recorded in a closet at Jonas’ home surrounded by bedsheets and towels. But it turned out pretty good. It was mixed and mastered by Karl Daniel Lidén (Crippled Black Phoenix, Greenleaf, Breach) who made it sound awesome! This release is also the first to be released through Suicide Records since we just recently became a member.”
GR: How would you describe your sound to people that haven’t listened to you yet?
O: “We believe that we have managed to marry together folky elements like banjo with sludge or post-metal infused parts in combination with a somewhat laid back style of singing and intriguing soundscapes. All this is probably the trademark of our sound and our main aim is to express ourselves through genuine music.”
GR: What influences you to write music? Any key themes or topics that you write about?
O: “Our music is mostly inspired by dark contemplation of a world where humans and the environment are thought of as economic resources. We basically think of capitalism as a new sort of religion that is unhealthy for us, destroys nature and exterminates species.
“With that said, we are also just a bunch of guys with normal day jobs (teacher, technician, advertiser and biologist), trying to make genuinely good and honest music on our spare time and having fun along the way.”
GR: Which bands/musicians are/have been your strongest musical influences?
O: “Our musical influences come from a rich blend of genres such as modern americana, indie, folk music, sludge, hardcore and early 00’s post-rock. Of course, there are lots of influential bands from different genres and every member of the band have different influences such as hip hop, folk, blues, sludge and post-rock. Influential bands are Woven Hand, Cult Of Luna, MONO, Thåström, Ossler, Christian Kjellvander, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Joy Division & Neurosis.”
GR: We’ve not spoken to any Swedish bands since the Covid outbreak. How have things been with the virus there?
O: “Until today, Sweden has been hit pretty hard by the corona virus if you compare with our Scandinavian neighbors. The exact outcome we don’t know yet but within a few years we will see if Sweden’s relatively loose and open approach to the virus were the right way to go.
“During the spring, government in Sweden issued a limit of 50 people at all gatherings. So there haven’t been any live shows since then, except very small ones. We do know that we have been ‘lucky’ in the aspect of being able to move outside, and to meet other people, go to bars and things – and who know if that was the right way to go – but we think that it, at least, won’t bring people into depression.”
GR: Sounds better than here… More generally, what are your thoughts on the current Swedish rock and metal scene?
O: “The Swedish rock and metal scene are great and for being a country with only around 10 million people we produce so many good and interesting bands! Both smaller emerging bands and also bigger more well-known bands worldwide. Something to watch out for is the upcoming Novarupta album. We have heard a sneak peak of it and it is amazing!”
GR: What have you got coming up through the rest of 2020?
O: “Our plans are to constantly develop ourselves and to play live. The first thing is to release a vinyl of the Thylacine EP together with Suicide Records (where Burial Mounds is the single). The next step is to record our upcoming EP/album and the thoughts are to make a concept together with a well-known photographer where we combine art and music. Our plans all depend on the covid-19 situation though, so we will have to adjust our plans accordingly.”
GR: Anything else you’d like people to know about Orochen/your music?
O: “We have always been keen on creating good percussion elements in our songs. In Drift Away (from the upcoming Thylacine EP) we thought it would be nice to try out some more organic/ethnic sounds. We got an idea to collect mussels at the beach to make sort of a ring with wire and shells that would make clapping noises. This worked well but when we recorded it the floor underneath was filled with small shell flakes that fell off and after a while the whole thing broke during a recording. Fortunately, we had recorded enough before that happened and the outcome became really nice!”