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A Dark Orbit

A Dark Orbit - Inverted album art


27 November 2015 - Basick Records

01. Weep To Water The Black Earth
02. Surfacing
03. Alter
04. They Rode The Heart Until It Spit Venom
05. Wavering
06. Haunted Error
07. Death Cult Philosophy
08. Lore Of Ocean
09. Pretty Guts
10. Zombiehawk
11. Floating Intact
12. Proper Skin
13. Horrible Mud
14. New Age Sinkhole
15. The Golden Purpose

Something wicked this way comes. Albeit slowly. Its been six long years since A Dark Orbit first loomed into view with debut EP Voyager and now, finally, they have returned with their first full-length, Inverted. Perhaps the reason this orbit is so dark is that it takes so long to complete a single rotation.

Lumbering out of their native St Louis, A Dark Orbit are clearly furious, but it’s a slow-burning fury that lies in wait for its victims to come to it, rather than rushing out and dragging them unsuspectingly into the undergrowth. Coming across like the bastard offspring of Will Haven and Meshuggah, A Dark Orbit unleash savagery with only occasional respite.

Perhaps more by luck than by judgement, Inverted landed right after the release of Orange Mathematics, the second release from vocalist Chad Kapper’s other outlet Frontierer. The proximity of these two releases makes comparison all but inevitable, but Inverted is a slower, more calculated yin to the all-out frenetic bezerker yang of Orange Mathematics. Characterised by lurching riffs and more of Chad’s caustic bellowing, Inverted is stripped back, stark and economical in its ruthlessness.

This point is firmly underscored by the strong opening pairing of “Weep to Water the Black Earth” and “Surfacing“, which do a particularly fine job of setting out A Dark Orbit’s stall and drawing the listener in. Elsewhere, occasional embellishments to the band’s basic formula bring to mind the Fluxion/Aeolian era of The Ocean‘s career, and that of their now labelmates Devil Sold His Soul. The DSHS connection is firmly concreted into the mix by a soaring guest appearance from vocalist Paul Green on “Pretty Guts“, which is something of an album highlight.

However, it may also be the case that it stands out so vividly because of its quite dramatic departure from the basic template. After six years, A Dark Orbit clearly have a lot to get off their chests, which results in a lengthy track list of fifteen songs. Unfortunately, this has something of a dilutary effect on the potency of Inverted as a whole; getting from one end of the track list to the other becomes a bit of an endurance test through a landscape that doesn’t offer much in the way of changes of scenery.

It’s hard to escape the feeling that Inverted would have been a bit more effective had three or four tracks been left out of the running order. It is slightly ironic that a band whose sound is so diligently stripped back have then let the collection of songs they present get a little flabby around the edges. There are plenty of engaging moments on Inverted, but it’s unfortunate that they are interspersed with just a few too many less than essential ones. It’s certainly worth the purchase price, but listeners may well find themselves picking out the best ten tracks and skipping the rest.