[January 6th, 2013]
01. Oblivious (Ft. Jesse Rocha of Sleep Now)
IORI have gone green. One must admire the Dallas quintet’s dedication to the environment, having released an EP made almost entirely out of post-consumer recycled music. Orphan is twenty-two minutes of redundant, mediocre metalcore – ‘mediocore’ if you will (you should not).
Before jumping into the litany of issues that prevent Orphan from being a good record, I should note that IORI are a completely serviceable group of musicians. The album is well-recorded, if slightly over-produced. It is hard to find fault with the vocals and the guitarists are passable. The performances on the album are mostly competent; it is the gestalt of the listening experience that lets Orphan down.
One of the immediately off-putting aspects of Orphan are the frequent attempts to nod at djent: chords are dutifully palm-muted and down-tuned strings are duly bent. These elements end up as little more than window dressing – unimaginative riffs cloaked in the extreme music world’s tone du jour. Worse than the annoying touches of djent are IORI’s singularly unconvincing forays into tough guy metalcore. Moments of heaviness come off as forced efforts, sounding trite and obligatory instead of brutal and mosh-worthy.
Orphan suffers from songwriting issues that seem to stem from a dearth of fresh ideas. The songs are modern metalcore monsters, cobbled together from a mess of recently popular metal and hardcore tropes. The result is a facsimile of a record – a shadow version of something that has been done better by many others. Even when IORI are not blatantly trying to ape aspects of other bands’ music, their efforts feel woefully inauthentic. At its best, Orphan is unoriginal – at its worst, it is boring. This is especially noticeable in the work behind the drumkit – the aggravatingly repetitive percussion exacerbates the album’s systemic lack of imagination.
This virulent unoriginality plagues many of IORI’s genre contemporaries, the contingent of bands that purport to play a hybrid of metal and hardcore, but seem to have virtually no knowledge of what a real hardcore song sounds like. They mimic bands with a similar sound, instead of synthesizing varied techniques into a new take on the fusion of the genres. Instead of combining metal’s technicality and heaviness with hardcore’s passion and intensity, IORI repeat stale djent riffs over simplistic drum patterns. It is derivative songwriting at its worst – Orphan is a copy of a copy.
Orphan only threatens to get interesting past its halfway point, with the brooding (almost) instrumental “Realization”. Temporarily dropping their djent meets hardcore pretentions, IORI offer up a song that actually feels like a cohesive whole; “Realization” is the only song on Orphan that flows naturally – building tension, then releasing it in a burst of energy. If IORI brought the same level of focus to the rest of the album, it could have been saved from being the lackluster effort that it is.
As uninspired as Orphan is, one can still hope that IORI matures into a better band with a clearer identity. To do that, they will have to overcome these self-imposed generic limitations and find something new amid the overdone refuse of the past decade of metalcore. I can only wish them luck.