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01. Grey Film
02. Radio... The Dead Eaters
03. Our Firestone
04. The Waters
Reviewed by: Nick
// Published: 3/8/2009
Bland album artwork aside, A Dark Orbit's debut release isn't half bad. At its core, The Voyager EP is a small collection of no frills, stupidly heavy metalcore anchored by discordant riffs and some impressively fierce vocals. But since every use of the metalcore term must now be accompanied by its own asterisk to keep everyone from leaving in droves, it might be helpful to note that this isn't predictable-breakdown-metalcore, clean-chorus-metalcore, or tech-your-face-off-metalcore -- it is simply heavy and punishing, like it should be.
And it's pretty obvious that these guys have spent a little bit of time listening to some of the recent wave of Architect/Engineer-type bands, although neither is a dead-on comparison, as A Dark Orbit relies more on a chaotic feel, shying away from a lot of the Coalesce-esque thick riffs and grooves. Hell, at times there's even a hint of Burnt by the Sun-style mayhem that contributes to The Voyage EP's overall jarring feeling.
"Grey Film" wastes no time in opening the disc, immediately launching into their controlled disorder with powerful screams and a great helping of fat, one-string guitar riffs. "The Waters" makes its mark with chugging low-end and a sprinkling of dissonant guitars. Every track packs in metalcore essentials, but the execution is noteworthy and the songwriting focus is in the right place, thus keeping it from sounding stagnant. And don't worry; it's okay to be a fan. Metalcore doesn't always have to be a dirty word.
Interestingly enough, it's A Dark Orbit's inclusion of slower, melodic passages that simultaneously give the EP a memorable touch while also offering the biggest opportunity for improvement. "Radio. The Dead Eaters" has an enjoyable midsection of ominous guitar lines with a cool mix of distant screams and brief singing, and the closer, "Voyager," is a slick ambient track that plays even more off of the same trick of burying screams deep in the mix to achieve unique textures. Even though the disc's metalcore content is solid, these elements are the ones that stand out, and could be used more to incorporate some additional songwriting variability. Is it hypocritical to praise parts of a record for being straightforwardly heavy while also asking them to pull back and add some more unique parts into the mix Maybe. But A Dark Orbit seems much more capable of pulling off an Old Man Gloom-esque mixture of noise and music than most run-of-the-mill metalcore bands. If these guys push their sound into a little bit of uncharted territory, it will add another songwriting dimension while concurrently making their heavy parts feel even heavier. And who knows -- it might be worth paying attention to these guys in the future to find out if they do just that.
Bottom Line: Metalcore should be allowed out of its room when it sounds like this. A Dark Orbit has a knack for executing some fairly ferocious tracks filled with discordant guitar work, pummeling drumming, and commanding screams, but they also offer a glimpse at what could be a very cool dimension of eerie melody and ambient moods. The Voyager EP is solid, but there's untapped potential here for something that could really stand out.
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