Orca, who have been labelled a prog rock and space rock, try to bring something new to the world of rock with their new album. From the title of the record, Universe, it’s clear what the band’s intentions and influences are.
It is oddly fitting that the single taken from the album, ‘Aquarius‘, holds similarities to ‘Black Hole Sun‘ by Soundgarden. The effect Orca are after is mainly achieved through vocals, as they try to keep the instruments quite heavy. A somewhat distant quality has been added to give the vocals that experimental edge a prog rock band would be looking for.
While it’s great that the band are trying, and in some ways succeeding, to differ from other bands, they’ve not really focussed on making their songs differ from each other. After a few listens, the overall sound of the album is overwhelming in all tracks. At times the guitars almost start to swallow the vocals, which is a shame, because this band clearly have great ideas and it would be interesting to hear what their lyrics are trying to convey more clearly. Of course this is part of the bands ‘sound’, with the slightly hazy vocals and desire to keep to their metal roots, but this could be combined to better effect.
The most stand out track is also the shortest. ‘PKD’ has a lighter more ethereal sound than the rest of the album, and is a spoken word track, rather than a sung word. It combines experimental and traditional melody well and builds up to the metal that carries the album right at the end, giving the track some real depth.
While Orca have great intentions and are slowly moving in the right direction to be a great progressive band, Universe just isn’t there yet. It has moments, like the musical interlude in ‘Moon Ride‘, where they really put forward their unique sound, but as a whole, the album doesn’t work quite as well. It will be worth keeping this band on your radar though, to see where their path takes them next.