Orbit Culture – Rasen (2016)

Swedish melodic death groovers Orbit Culture have been around since 2013 and have consistently released a new album almost every year, which isn’t quite so common, to say the least. You’ll notice that the band took a little bit more time with this one however, as there’s a year gap between 2014’s In Merdias Res and this new album. From what I’ve heard here, the gap seems like just what the record needed, though I can’t be for certain as this is my first excursion with the act. Disregarding all of that, I can say that fans of melodic death metal legends and recent greats will be quite pleased with the record, certainly just as much as I am. The opener “Svartport” seems like it might have influence from Testament’s The Gathering, while “Sun Of All” certainly seems to carry that sorrowful tinge that Insomnium and Swallow The Sun brought to the genre. “Obsession” feels a lot like mid-era Soilwork, although you could also compare those grooves to mid-era In Flames. The album’s title track sounds like it has some Gojira references behind it, while at the same time reminding me a lot of Scar Symmetry. Frontman Niklas Karlsson has a vocal bark that is almost completely comparable to that of legend Christian Alvestam, especially during his Scary Symmetry and Unmoored work. There is no doubt that the melodic death metal listener will find several references to his favorite acts here, yet they are all placed in such a way that they sound authentic, and not like some mere emulation. Occasionally Orbit Culture also throw in synths and cleans, which definitely help the performance and are certainly not unheard of in this kind of music.

If you’ll remember what I said when I was reviewing Israel’s The Fading, Orbit Culture sound like a more modern tribute to the melodic death metal we have today, whereas the latter sounded more like a tribute to the melodic death of yesteryear. That’s also why I feel that such an album is greater, because these guys aren’t making a mere emulation of the same songs and artists that they like. They’re reinterpreting their favorite acts in a style that befits them. Orbit Culture sounds like a new band, with a lot of great influences and that’s what’s important. Every great band has a lot of inspirations behind them, even Priest, Maiden and Sabbath had their influences. But what makes a band a great band, is when they can pool all those influences together to make something that just sounds monolithic, and that’s what I feel Rasen is. While we might think it’s a little funny to consider a record called Rasen very close to the English raisin, I can absolutely assure you that this disc is no mere dried fruit. The band still have some places where they can explore and expand what they’re doing here, but if you love hard grooves, memorable melodies and an overall great interpretation of some of the best things that this genre has had to offer for the past couple of decades, then you should look no further than Orbit Culture. I should also mention that I’m quite happy with the production value here, and everything has been properly for what I’d consider the best possible experience of a record that I’m sure you’ll play again and again. I surely wouldn’t mind having a copy of this in my collection and I feel that most melodic death metal fans would feel the same – especially if you dig grooves as much as I do. Rasen is a definite win for these gentlemen and I hope that this won’t be the last we hear from them. Yet after two prior records, I’m quite sure that they’re only beginning to show off what they can really do. You’re gonna love this one.

(10 Tracks, 48:00)

8/10

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