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Orbit Culture - Shaman - 95%

Livingwave17, November 8th, 2021
Written based on this version: 2021, Digital, Seek & Strike

It takes something truly special to pull me out of my writing silence. Orbit Culture have been making quite the stir in the metal scene recently, and I must admit I have no idea under what rock I was living that I didn’t find them earlier. 2020’s “Nija”, the third full length record from the Swedes, established their position as one of the strongest up and coming new names in the industry and many previously poor clueless shmucks (myself included) have had the revelation of their lives when finding the band with that album. But like many, the album barely saw the stage which left our rising stars locked up with their festering misery, which led to the rapid development of further demons to battle by means of angry sounds. Thus enters “Shaman”, the soon to be released 5-track EP, with a reworked aesthetic and tweaked sound to boot, which we will now attempt to dissect before it proceeds to dissect our ears necks and emotions.

For those that are still under a rock, let me give the ADHD appropriate description of the band. Put Metallica, Gojira, Meshuggah and Septicflesh (the sounds, not the actual band members) in a blender, season with some classic Swe-death flavors and Scandinavian melancholy, make it about brain issues, and wrap it up in the finest modern production to ever be fitted on a death metal record and Voila. As far as Scandinavian melancholy goes, ‘Nija’ nailed that best, both in sound and aesthetic, which is exactly where ‘Shaman‘ changes the recipe. This time orienting their vibes closer to the Equator, the Cultured men from up in Orbit went for a much more tribal feel surrounding their well-defined romps, grooves, growls, and breakdowns. A strong nautical feeling with captivating maritime motifs further accompanies this new tropical witchcraft aesthetic. Got the big picture? Great, let’s get into the details.

There isn’t a groovier, more headbang-able or infectious band in death metal, PERIOD. Riffs are full of chunky chugs and roaring chords, but still with a strong melodic edge and beautiful harmonies. The bass thumps a lot (that’s it really ¯\_(ツ)_/¯). Touches of black, thrash and metalcore pop in occasionally to add diversity of dynamics, and the pace is overall set by the drums. The sense of alternating kick-snares with breakdown-esque grooves (and ACTUAL breakdowns) and the blast beat or double kick frenzies is what gives Orbit their unmistakable pace (so mosh-worthy). And then there’s the atmosphere laid out by rich, orchestral, epic, uplifting soundscapes and some particular choices of sound that are all new this time around. Also the harsh vocals are scary and deep, and the clean vocals are James Hetfield but not quite.

Opening track “Mast of the World” is OC at their most dynamic. From the fuzzy effects in the intro and hard hitting main riff/groove, to the blasting pre-chorus and the (hold on to your butts… ) CHURCH ORGAN, in and around the chorus as well as a deep sounding string section in the bridge, this opener might be the greatest shock moment in Orbit fandom history. The following “Flight of the Fireflies” and “Carvings” are already released as singles and structurally these are most similar to the previous album. Some moments in these songs are worth a shout-out though, such as the cymbal play in the chorus of Flight and the tribal vocal melodies in the bridge of Carvings. Both also have insane breakdowns with a low detuned down-slide effect (there’s that little metalcore edge). Coming up “Stranger” brings a much more thrashy pace with some strong battle scream gang shout effects in the chorus. Yes it’s the shortest on the EP. Yes it’s just as loaded as the others. Yes it’s just much faster. And the closing track “A Sailor’s Tale”… I’m not gonna tell you anything about it, because I really really REALLY don’t want to. The surprise I had with this one has to be lived completely un-spoiled, especially if you’re a fan.

While Orbit Culture is a band with a bit of recipe, it’s one of those precious cookies yo’ mama used to make that you don’t mind gobbling up in astronomical quantities. And with the changes in tone and aesthetic surrounding every new release, it’s obvious they have paved a long road ahead of them. Yes, I know I’m the pretentious prog schmuck that usually criticizes bands with recipes. Yes I know I’m a hypocrite and I’m breaking my principles. Orbit just does that to you, OK? So let me be a hypocrite, and you’ve probably got things to do than read some doofus’ ramblings on the internet. “Shaman” is out through Seek & Strike, Bandcamp, Spotify, and whatnot. Brace hard for this one, and as always…

Enjoy!

Originally Written for The Metal Observer

Orbit Culture - Shaman - 91%

John_e _C, October 2nd, 2021
Written based on this version: 2021, CD, Seek & Strike

Orbit Culture’s Nija was a milestone release in the bands catalogue that combined the best elements of their song writing and yielded a masterfully executed album. Rather than resting on their laurels, Orbit Culture had commenced writing a follow up EP to Nija between February and April of 2021 and have now presented their latest offering Shaman. Is Shaman an example of a band striking while the iron is hot, or is it a lazy release of Nija leftovers to whet fans appetites for new material?

Shaman is opened by the song “Mast of the World” which begins with ominous guitar effects and electronics before transitioning into a wild ride of heavy riffs and haunting church organ melodies. “Mast of the World” is familiar territory for Orbit Culture and features all the heaviness and orchestration that fans have come to love. Niklas Karlsson’s vocals on this track tastefully transition between growls and melodic singing without following the traditional verse-growl/chorus-sing structure that is employed by so many metal bands. Similar vocal placement is also utilized on the primal sounding “Carvings”, where Karlsson saves his singing voice for its own dedicated section rather than using it in the chorus. This deviation from the traditional formula really works on Shaman because it adds variety to the EP and makes triumphant choruses such as the one on “Flight of the Fireflies” resonate much harder.

The vocals on Shaman are very well executed and compliment the EP’s impressive collection of riffs and instrumentals. The foot-stomping main riff of “Carvings” has a very catchy, tribal sound to it that will make it a certain crowd pleaser at live shows. The following track “Strangler” also maintains this live show energy and features the bands most anthemic chorus to date with a fantastic guitar solo. The EP’s greatest track, however, is saved for last with the Pirates of the Caribbean-esque “A Sailor’s Tale”. Clocking in at 7:11 minutes, this is the longest track that Orbit Culture has ever released, and it is truly an epic. The orchestration and riffs give the track a grandiose feeling and harken back to the bands debut EP, Odyssey while simultaneously feeling new and fresh. The tracks featured on Shaman are some of Orbit Culture’s strongest material and “A Sailor’s Tale” may be the bands best song yet.

A mere six months had passed since the release of Nija, and Orbit Culture had already returned to the studio to create an EP that picked up right where the album had left off. Rather than feeling like a collection of B-sides and songs that did not make the cut for Nija, Shaman contains five expertly crafted tracks that build on past work and push Orbit Culture’s sound to new heights.

91%

Favourite Songs: Flight of the Fireflies, Carvings, Strangler, A Sailor’s Tale