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Ortega : A Flame Never Rises On Its Own

With this Ep, Ortega have produced a flowing, well-matched selection of top-quality long songs.

2012 has been a productive year for Groningen's Ortega. Starting with an early re-release of their critically-acclaimed debut album '1634' by Aesthetic Death, the Dutch band went on to put out a couple of new mixed-media (tape/vinyl/download) EPs: this three-track release, and the later lone song of 'The Serpent Stirs'. And, by the looks of it, many of the physical copies of both have already been snapped up and sold out - so, not just productive but successful.

There is always a question hanging over EPs: the one, as Killing Joke once put it, "What's THIS For..."? Especially these days, when an EP can easily run to the length, or more, of an entire vinyl album of my youth. It leads to the suspicion that, somehow, there's likely to be something substandard about the offering - perhaps a quick'n'dirty stop-gap to keep the fans interested, perhaps material not quite good enough for a 'proper' album, perhaps an incoherent selection of odds and ends that don't really fit together.

Thankfully, Ortega have neatly sidestepped all of those possible criticisms, with 'A Flame Never Rises On Its Own' being a flowing, well-matched selection of top-quality long songs, crafted with the same care as any of the album tracks found on '1634'. The only real difference is that the full-length release was a conceptual beast that needed the extra time to explore its nautical storyline: this EP lacks that particular thread, instead offering a briefer but self-contained showcase of the band's repertoire.

That, of course, still falls quite firmly into the Sludge/Doom-Post-Rock bracket which will always invite comparisons with the likes of Isis and Cult Of Luna. True, as far as it goes, but it seems to me that these are somewhat superficial: there is, for example, a distinct similarity to Cult Of Luna in the hoarsely-shrieked/growled vocal style and sound, but the sludgy distortion in Ortega's music gives it more of a deep and dense texture.

So, what you get here is one comparatively slow, riff-driven track ('When Fire Meets Fire'), one mellower, largely Post-Rock instrumental ('The Entity') and one galloping, drum-heavy monolith ('Ritual'): all of which adds up to plenty of variety. It's well-produced, well-written, loud and purposeful stuff that continues where '1634' left off, establishing Ortega as one of the more interesting talents in this particular field.

With the download option through Bandcamp currently costing just one euro, it's hard to think of a single reason why you shouldn't invest in this little gem of a release.

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Reviewer's rating: 8.5/10


Tracklist :
1. When Fire Meets Fire
2. The Entity
3. Ritual

Duration : Approx. 27 minutes

Visit the Ortega bandpage.

Reviewed on 2012-12-30 by Mike Liassides
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