Orbs
Past Life Regression


4.5
superb

Review

by Thompson D. Gerhart STAFF
July 13th, 2016 | 101 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Progressive metal at another level.

I hope I'm not the only person out there who's been patiently-but-impatiently awaiting Orbs' sophomore album after the successful experimentation employed on their initial release, Asleep Next to Science. The dynamic, playful, and childhood, science, and space-centered album dissolved the "supergroup" albatross immediately conferred upon the band created by Dan Briggs (Between the Buried and Me), Adam Fisher (Fear Before), and Ashley Ellyllon (Abigail Williams, Cradle of Filth) and turned it into something beautiful - a grandiose prog rock album with delightfully strange lyrics.

Orbs themselves stated that part of the aim with Asleep Next to Science was to create one of the most balls to the wall, all-out progressive rock albums conceived and recorded. If I'm the one judging (and I am), I'd say they succeeded beyond all expectations. But, with such success, the next question on the mind of listeners, fans, and critics has to be: what's next?

In terms of pure experimentation and the success of the experiments employed, I think it's easy to say that Past Life Regression easily surpasses its predecessor. The variety of sounds and dynamics on Past Life Regression is simply on another level above its predecessor and any supposed competition. The fluid manner in which the band move from the flowery sweet chord progression of "Jaws on Repeat, Life on Hold" to the dark woods of its midsection and somehow back out into clear waters is astonishing. The flow from prog rock chaos to shipwrecked acoustic shanty to titular tremolo outro tension in "Exploded Birds" is striking and beautiful. "These People are Animals" hits with a dark and pummeling force that is somehow contrasted with a brief hit on bright chord play that's straight out of The Beatles' playbook. And that's not even the half of it. It's all chaotic, but such a wonderfully organized and carefully crafted chaos that seeing the structure of each track not only hold up, but stand out like the Golden Gate Bridge is impressive in and of itself.

This is due in no small part to the Herculean vocal athletics of Adam Fisher, who undoubtedly deserves the gold medal for most interesting lyrics and vocal delivery on every damn track on Past Life Regression. More impressive yet, he does so while straddling structural change-ups that would easily sink a lesser man. But who else out there would write a song about getting high and watching Jaws that actually has some weird philosophical points tacked onto it? Who else would write a catchy vocal melody that both addresses the horror of catching your parents having sex and ignores the horror of catching your parents having sex altogether? Who else can rhyme "Sauvignon Blanc" and work poppy backing vocals into what's arguably the album's eeriest, darkest track in "Pecular, Isn't It?"

Truly, at times, Past Life Regression feels like the counterpoint to All Human's Teenagers, You Don't Have to Die! - the heavy and technical yin to Teenagers' somber and contemplative yang. And as far as I'm concerned, there's everything to love about that. Of course, if you come into Past Life Regression expecting the playful, youthful spirit and lyrics that dotted Asleep Next to Science, you may be surprised that Past Life Regression takes a darker bent. The lyrical content is more serious on the whole, focusing on themes of sex, gender, love, philosophy, and reincarnation - though parts of "Jaws" and "Exploded Birds" among others still maintain some of the childish zaniness that was so infectious on Orbs' debut. The musical content is often more sinister to complete the experience, with retro sci fi keyboard ambiance and biting, low-end guitars driving the point home. Naturally, quirky vocal phrasing, shimmering piano arpeggios, and proggy guitar leads still dot the album to impressive effect, but there's much more of a discord and malaise to Past Life Regression than on the group's previous effort.

The only real knock against Past Life Regression is that its ambition and experimentation make for an incredibly varied album. While each and every track on the album is truly wonderful and engaging and most (if not all) are (loosely) tied together by a theme of reincarnation, said variety costs the band in flow from track to track. Some may also find the vocals of Fisher not to be a fit for them - they're definitely an acquired taste, but one that's so unique and flavorful I find that hardly anything else compares.

But minute gripes about album cohesion aside, Past Life Regression is a sophomore release well worth the six year wait. I'm hard-pressed to think of another act out there creating music this unique, quirky, and twisted with any semblance of the level of talent Orbs possess. I only hope it doesn't take another six years for the group to release their next masterpiece. But I'll wait as long as I need to as long as the result keeps pushing the limits as hard as Past Life Regression pushes them.



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user ratings (98)
Chart.
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
AtomicWaste
Moderator
July 13th 2016


2706 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Stream:

http://teamrock.com/news/2016-07-14/listen-to-orbs-new-album-past-life-regression-in-full



Album is not an immediate one by any means, but very much worth the effort.

Calc
Contributing Reviewer
July 13th 2016


15749 Comments


you get a pre-release copy you lucky duck? the leak is 160kbps so I'm just gonna wait till it's out and stream this.

TheSpaceMan
July 13th 2016


9270 Comments


hyyyyype. nice review too

AtomicWaste
Moderator
July 13th 2016


2706 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

@Calc - yep, got an advance! Probably the happiest I've ever been to get one.



@SpaceMan - thanks!

Insurrection
Contributing Reviewer
July 13th 2016


24403 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

aw damn i gotta get on this. love their other stuff

Calc
Contributing Reviewer
July 13th 2016


15749 Comments


i hope it's as good as you're making it out to be here. this year has been just amazing only 6.5 months in

AtomicWaste
Moderator
July 13th 2016


2706 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Like I said it's not exactly as immediate as Asleep Next to Science and it's got less of an album flow but the tracks are all so intricate it's awesome.

tacos N stuff
July 13th 2016


2668 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album is a grower for sure

While I like this a lot, idk if it was worth 6 years though lol

Spiral Skies
July 13th 2016


183 Comments


Can't wait to jam this, awesome review.

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
July 14th 2016


30767 Comments


whoa!

didnt know this was comin

ConcubinaryCode
July 14th 2016


4033 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Damn you for getting that early copy! I should get my copy soon though so hopefully I can join in your sentiments on the album.

AtomicWaste
Moderator
July 14th 2016


2706 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Stream is up!



http://teamrock.com/news/2016-07-14/listen-to-orbs-new-album-past-life-regression-in-full



Fill yourselves with LOVE! SWEET LOVE!

dbizzles
July 14th 2016


10067 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Second sentence was a pretty rough read, but the rest of the review is good. I didn't know this was coming out. I remember enjoying some stuff for the first LP, so I'm interested. Good to hear Adam didn't hold back one bit.

AtomicWaste
Moderator
July 14th 2016


2706 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

"Second sentence was a pretty rough read, but the rest of the review is good."



Yeah the name dropping makes a chunky sentence even chunkier, I admit, but I felt like I had to do it and do it early, so I just kinda got it done with that.



"Good to hear Adam didn't hold back one bit."



He definitely does not hold back and I love him for it. I've really come to see how absolutely integral he is to this band.

JakeStallion
July 14th 2016


459 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Just finished giving this a spin. This album shot itself right up into my top 5 of the year. It's ridiculously good. Excellent review too.

brainmelter
July 14th 2016


4420 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

is it really metal tho

Digging: No Clear Mind - Mets

betweentheburiedandi
July 14th 2016


48 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review and a great album. This jumped to top 3 of the year so far

AtomicWaste
Moderator
July 14th 2016


2706 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

"is it really metal tho"



I mean, kinda? In the same way that Streetlight and Rx Bandits are kinda ska.

Brabiz
July 15th 2016


890 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Is a 5 honestly.

Digging: MGMT - Little Dark Age

Piripichotes
July 15th 2016


386 Comments


WAAAAAAAY better than last BTBAM's effort.... Dan should leave that cursed band and focus on this.

Digging: Enslaved - E



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