Album Review: ORDINANCE The Ides of March
Ordinance have returned after a five year absence with a death metal marathon of a record. They hit the ground running with the brief but powerful “ Ista Quidem Vis Est.” This minute-forty long assault lays the groundwork for the journey ahead of you with pummeling rhythms, chaotic musicianship and Mike Semesky sounding like a full on demon as he roars Julies Cesar's last words.
Overall, the record contains a good balance of dissonant chords a la your Gorguts-type of death metal and the erratic Allegaeon or Black Dahlia Murder-esque guitar work of Greg Macklin and Gunter Ostendorp. Macklin had to keep up with Jeff Loomis on stage, and Ostendorp is with him the whole way so there’s no surprise that these guys are pretty good. However, those looking for your true/classic/whatever death metal may need to look elsewhere. This is plenty of melody, yet not as often as I expected, and it does a great job to break up what would be over an hour of technical metal. I love me some technical metal, but the breaks are welcomed as it would be exhausting otherwise.
Mike Semesky (Raunchy, Rest Among Ruins, ex-The HAARP Machine) has been slowly compiling a diverse portfolio of great vocal performances, and this one is no different. He is at his most evil sounding for a majority of the record ping-ponging between deep death metal growls and shrill black metal highs. The Ides of March is by far his most diverse performance. He’s trying a lot of newer techniques proving that he’s grown a lot and continues to branch out in successful ways. His singing on this record also deserves a nod as the vocals on “Heir Avid” are incredible, which is perhaps his finest work (second only to that cover of Imogen Heap's “Hide and Seek” he did years ago). Similarly, I must praise the vocal layering and production on the first single of the album “23 Wounds.”
It’s pretty known that this band does some heavy hitting, and they are hitting hard. The star of the record might be drummer Alex Rudinger who has already cemented himself with acts like Good Tiger, Conquering Dystopia, and (ex)The HAARP Machine. On this album, he is able to weave all sorts of influences and rhythms that may not otherwise intertwine outside of a technical/progressive arena. Perhaps most notable in his performance on the in-song drum solo in “Denarius.” It’s rare, in most metal I’ve heard anyway, for there to be a moment when all other instruments fall back and let the drums shine in this way. Happens all the time with guitars, yet these guys do it for Mr. Rudinger, and it’s a masterclass of procession.
Semesky is no stranger to concept albums with his most recent effort with Rest Among Ruins being a tale of inner torment. However, The Ides of March has Mike taking on several characters as he tackles the conspiracy surrounding the death of Julies Cesar. The concept is fairly abstract and feels out of left field, but its rather compelling when you have the lyrics in hand. It’s not quite the straight-up ridiculous yet apt stage production delivery the liner notes of Dream Theater’s The Astonishing gives you, but the narrative is strong. There are even some orchestral elements in tracks like “Fear of Discovery” that provide the perfect atmospheric score to the subject matter. If I’d change anything, it would be to add more of that, but then the entire tone of the record would have been altered dramatically. Although, I like the record a lot, so maybe I don’t know what I want.
We proclaimed a little while ago that Ordinance is your new favorite band. If you want you Faceless with a bit more melody, your Black Dahlia Murder a bit proggier, or your Julies Cesar infotainment way more death metal, then yes. Ordinance is your new favorite band.