Orbit Culture - Nija review




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Reviewer:
7.3

86 users:
7.85
Band: Orbit Culture
Album: Nija
Release date: August 2020


01. At The Front
02. North Star Of Nija
03. Open Eye
04. Day Of The Cloud
05. Behold
06. Mirrorslave
07. Nensha
08. Rebirth
09. The Shadowing


The Swedish-American metal exchange program is alive and well in Orbit Culture.

The Swedish melodeath scene from the 90s, particularly acts such as At The Gates, Arch Enemy and In Flames, were well-noted influences on a number of American metal acts during the 2000s, and played a key role the emergence of the melodic metalcore scene that dominated mainstream metal during said decade. However, by 2020, the influenced have long since become influencers (not of the Instagram variety), with swathes of European bands deriving elements from the sounds of the American acts. This includes Swedish melodeath bands, with Eksjö's Orbit Culture serving as a perfect example.

The sound on Nija, the band's third full-length record, is still largely based in the Gothenburg sound, not so much replicating Dark Tranquillity but moreso 2000s In Flames, as well as the likes of Arch Enemy and Soilwork. These come through on tracks such as "Day Of The Cloud" and "Nensha", from the up-tempo ripping verses to the cleans, which on certain tracks have a hint of Anders Fridén to them. However, the record does owe a similar debt to the American melodic metalcore scene. There's also a pretty substantial groove metal element to the band's sound in various stretches; these come through on the likes of "At The Front" and the closing minutes of "Behold", bringing to mind Lamb Of God amongst others (a comparison helped by the similarities between Orbit Culture's harsh vocals and Randy Blythe's roars).

There are other elements here of note; the guitar work can get quite djent-y at times, and whilst the synths/keyboards aren't a leading aspect of the band's sound, they do get a reasonable amount of use, and when combined with some gnarly chugging the band almost approaches industrial metal. Probably the one other element that really leapt out at me, however, was the thrash moments on certain songs. "Open Eye" in particular, but also "Nensha" at times, feels extremely inspired by Testament, due to both the riffs but also the obvious similarities between the clean vocals on these tracks and Chuck Billy. I mentioned earlier that I got hints of In Flames in the cleans on other tracks; I was very surprised to see that there was only one vocalist credited on Nija (guitarist, songwriter and bandleader Niklas Karlsson), as the clean tone does vary quite a bit here. When "Open Eye" first came on, I honestly thought Billy might have continued his run of guest appearances (after popping up on recent Lamb Of God and Killswitch Engage records, it wouldn't be out of place to turn up on a record from a band inspired by these acts), but, whether due to the accompanying instrumentation or not, I only get that vibe on the aforementioned couple of tracks.

After an overview of the band's sound, I guess we should get into the actual quality of the songs. I discovered Orbit Culture when a friend forwarded me "The Shadowing" during lockdown; I'm always game for some quality Gothenburg-style metal and the track ripped, so I signed up to review this upcoming record in the hope of more gems. Sadly, I do have to say that "The Shadowing" is clearly the best song here from my perspective, an energetic beast with some slick grooves and comfortably the most memorable chorus/clean vocal sections on Nija, as well as probably the most effective use of synths and background choir sounds too. The rest of the record, when pit against the competition (particularly records such as Soilwork's recent output), falls a bit short in terms of memorability, both on the part of the riffs and the choruses. There's a few tracks here that fall into this peculiar middle ground of not being particularly melodic, energetic, rhythmically compelling or having any particular standout traits; having said that, there are a number of bands that have found widespread popularity in the last 2 decades doing much the same, and I've heard far worse tracks than "Mirrorslave" and "Rebirth" make it onto metal radio or festival main stages.

Although the last paragraph was a bit down, I do think there's things outside of "The Shadowing" that Orbit Culture do really well here, in addition to some really nice elements or touches in certain songs. Probably the thing that most reliably impressed me was how good a number of the bridges were; the first one that stood out was the quiet melodic break in the second half of "Day Of The Cloud", which develops really nicely and serves as an effective conduit between the aggression of the first half of the track and the meat of the djenty conclusion. Additionally, as much as the bulk of "Mirrorslave" doesn't overly grip me, when it ups the ante towards the end it slots into some compelling grooves, channelling (good) Machine Head. "Nensha", generally one of the stronger tracks on Nija, briefly fades out after a rampaging opening few minutes before delivering a fairly emphatic grandstand climax. Beyond their impressive work in the closing stages of songs, I also enjoy the melodic aspects of "Behold", including the pyrotechnic guitar leads in the chorus. At a more general level, the pacing of faster and slower tracks across the tracklist is well-judged, and the production fits this style of metal perfectly.

Overall, I'm happy to see new bands delivering solid Gothenburg-influenced melodeath to fill the void left by In Flames' decline, and I also appreciate their combination of a few different overlapping influences to avoid their sound coming across as too derivative. However, what I hear on Nija are hints of a potentially great record to come, rather than a great record in and of itself.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 5
Production: 8


 



Written on 08.08.2020 by Hey chief let's talk why not


Comments

Comments: 4   Visited by: 108 users
08.08.2020 - 14:48
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
I wouldn't have guessed by that cover art that it's a melodeath album
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- I've dreamt of that for years.
- Dying?
- Running.




2020 goodies
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08.08.2020 - 15:54
musclassia
Written by RaduP on 08.08.2020 at 14:48

I wouldn't have guessed by that cover art that it's a melodeath album


It reminds me a lot of Skin-Ken by Persefone; I think without that it would indicate something a bit more extreme than this. I like it though!
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08.08.2020 - 18:55
Troy Killjoy
perfunctionist
Written by musclassia on 08.08.2020 at 15:54

It reminds me a lot of Skin-Ken by Persefone

THANK YOU. I was sitting here staring at the cover art thinking I've seen something extremely similar before but wasn't able to draw it up from memory. Would have lost sleep over that (or wasted an unspeakable amount of time scrawling through RYM charts).
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I have no memory of this place.
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09.08.2020 - 23:19
musclassia
Written by Troy Killjoy on 08.08.2020 at 18:55

Written by musclassia on 08.08.2020 at 15:54

It reminds me a lot of Skin-Ken by Persefone

THANK YOU. I was sitting here staring at the cover art thinking I've seen something extremely similar before but wasn't able to draw it up from memory. Would have lost sleep over that (or wasted an unspeakable amount of time scrawling through RYM charts).


I know that feeling all too well, happy to be of service
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