Orion
Where Whales Go To Die


4.0
excellent

Review

by Thompson D. Gerhart STAFF
November 4th, 2011 | 13 replies | 4,134 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Orion bring a solid and somewhat experimental approach to the post-metal genre, releasing a very well-crafted effort that could signify the rise of a new great in the genre.

It seems there's been a sweeping movement in Metal to make things bigger - more theatrical, more atmospheric, denser, heavier, you name it. Granted, there's nothing immediately wrong with the idea of enlarging the sound, but it feels that many bands, when preoccupied with expanding their sound, end up with a large, empty, and as a result, hollow shell. Fortunately for Orion, a four piece instumental outfit from Manchester, the experimental sounds they create and compile feel warm, fluid, and whole. And very, very grand.

Consisting of only four instrumental tracks that vary from the hard hitting and dark to the ambient and melodic, Orion fill Where Whales Go To Die with layer upon layer of precise transitioning, musical depth, and emotion. Perhaps most easily described as a post-metal mash-up of Tesseract and Isis, Orion manage to achieve a sound that varies between three distinct thresholds. Threshold one being poignant, ambient interludes worthy of being classified in the same arena as drawn out orchestral swells; threshold two being leading axework that not only moves the song along, but does so with a sense of gusto and style, creating memorable hooks that transform into mental choruses. The third and final threshold is the presence of down-tuned chugged rhythm sections that, when used in combination with the other two thresholds described here, manage to provide a quick and simple change of pace that doesn't overstay its welcome, as can often be the case when overused to nauseating effect by djent bands.

But the presence of these thresholds themselves isn't what makes Where Whales Go To Die such a great listen. As with other bands in the post-metal genre, a great deal of the grace comes in managing the transitions between these elements as well as the songs themselves. Orion manage to do this quite well by incorporating overarching drum fills that run from rhythms to leads, underlying ambient currents that run from leads to interludes, and harmonics and leads that run from interludes to lead hooks. It's all like one big zen ebb and flow, with each element containing some small piece of another, and it brings everything together in a very smooth way.

While the work of the band can be said not to contain any vocal passages, opening track "Machine" contains a speech from Charlie Chaplin's "The Great Dictator," a truly excellent speech framing the wonder of humanity, the value of human decency and the importance of life, hope, and love. It's simply beautiful, and lends a light, positive tone to the album that it would otherwise be lacking. All the while, Orion create a brooding, solemn tone underneath the speech, waiting for the cheers of the listening audience to erupt, before launching off into dark, chugging riffs which lead to a melodic solo that seems to call for the revolution previously advocated by Chaplin.

The album segues quietly from "Machine" to "Surface," where the atmospheric dark, rushing, electronic noises mimic a sound similar to a whale's song and create interludes between deep grooves and subsequent melodic leads. While it's easy for bands with this sort of sound to simply drone on for too long with repetitive chugs or simple leads, Where Whales Go to Die always manages to feel fresh and interesting. Be it simply by incorporating acoustic harmonics into the fray that lead to warm solos in between the more mechanized distorted riffing or by simply managing the proper interlude to riff and solo ratio, it feels like Orion have simply done it right.

While not quite at the level of Isis, it feels like Orion aren't far off. The sound here is big enough, full enough, experimental enough, and certainly more than inspired enough to warrant the comparison. It truly feels that, given enough time, Orion could easily become one of the next post-metal giants.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
November 4th 2011



1918 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

This is pretty short for me, I hope it worked out alright.

Really great EP.

Listen for free here: http://orionband.bandcamp.com/album/where-whales-go-to-die

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
November 4th 2011



6734 Comments


*metal --------first paragraph, Really, really nit-picky but it sticks out a little.

Have a pos, this sounds like something to at least, check out. Good work : ]

Wunderbar007
November 4th 2011



81 Comments


usually not crazy about music like this, but I really enjoyed the "Machine" speech. Nice review :] pos

Wunderbar007
November 4th 2011



81 Comments


Oops, double post, sorry! Anyway, check out Beacon by Cloudkicker if you haven't already. You might like it.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
November 4th 2011



7008 Comments


Solid review AtomicWaste. I'll pos.

Here's a nugget of constructive criticism for you though: avoid using descriptive words that are vague and rather unclear, e.g: "beautiful", "excellent", "fresh", and "interesting". I mean to say that those words, while valid, don't really tell me much about how something sounds - my mental definition of something "beautiful" may be very different from yours, if you catch my drift? Use something more concrete, like analogies or time/place sets that firmly ground your description into something which a reader can comprehend and relate to.

E.g (from Pitchfork's review of Lulu):

a.) Reed's monotone remains unresponsive to what's happening around him whether the occasion calls for full-torque thrash ("Mistress Dread") or dreary acoustic mood pieces ("Little Dog")

b.) But for all of Reed's meandering, a-melodic verbosity, it's actually Hetfield who sounds the most out of place here; beyond his self-parodic turn on "The View", he contributes intrusive back-ups to the bar-band slog "Iced Honey" and the maddeningly repetitious "Cheat on Me" like someone in the back row of a class photo trying to mug his way into the frame.

Note how clear and unambiguous those descriptions are. It's that level of writing which we should all be aiming for, and fortune permitting, will attain one day. Good luck!

Digging: Caleb McAlpine - All Things New

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
November 4th 2011



1918 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

*metal --------first paragraph, Really, really nit-picky but it sticks out a little.


Metal's actually a proper noun, so, though it kinda sticks out, it's actually a proper use of capitalization. Got me to realize some terrible, terrible grammatical errors, though, so thanks!

Here's a nugget of constructive criticism for you though: avoid using descriptive words that are vague and rather unclear, e.g: "beautiful", "excellent", "fresh", and "interesting". I mean to say that those words, while valid, don't really tell me much about how something sounds - my mental definition of something "beautiful" may be very different from yours, if you catch my drift? Use something more concrete, like analogies or time/place sets that firmly ground your description into something which a reader can comprehend and relate to.


Thanks, man, I appreciate it. I definitely see what you're saying, and I'll aim to hit the mark a bit more accurately next time. I think that's what made me feel a bit off after I posted this. It felt fine while I was writing it, but I concede that it's lacking a bit of clear musical description.

I reckon I might just play around and add another paragraph or so to try to remedy that.

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
November 4th 2011



1918 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I added a good bit... Hopefully it helps!

Irving
Staff Reviewer
November 6th 2011



7008 Comments


The flow's a bit better now. Be sure to keep at it mate =)

Will catch you in the thread for your next review =)

BugZoid
November 6th 2011



331 Comments


I found these guys on bandcamp and was pretty impressed by what I heard, though I did not give a full listen. But your description did it great justice, and may have just convinced me to splurge on it. *Splurrrrrge*. Pos'd!

sexpoi
November 12th 2011



597 Comments


good review. so far this ep is pretty cool

sora236
March 12th 2012



147 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Machine and Descent are killer tracks.

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
June 24th 2012



1918 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Just came back to this after a while and it still rules hard.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
September 5th 2012



9467 Comments


This album sounds sweeeeeeet.

Digging: Koan Sound - Dynasty



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