by Jason Hoffman
ORB is the spawn of Eric Mead and Mike Wilson (who in the past has been a part of some of Fort Wayne’s pioneering heavy bands such as Judgment and Demented). Combing their myriad influences, ORB reflect a heavy goth sound with elements of techno and jazz. Ashes E.P. is their debut release, encompassing seven relationship themed songs in a broad variety of styles, and was recorded and produced entirely in their home studio.
I have to admit that I was thrown by the first song, “Tomorrow”. They would revoke my mail-order rock critic license if I didn’t call this song for what it is: it’s so bad it’s actually kind of fun. The song begins abruptly in mid-beat (who hit the record button too late?) and is soon followed by the plagiarized melody from Boston’s “Peace of Mind.” A number of stilted, programmed drum fills unintentionally throw off the beat, the vocal harmonies waver off the key, and this rock ballad ends with a sorely out-of-place Stevie Ray Vaughn-derived guitar solo. I eventually came to enjoy listening to this song because I find new faux pas with each listen. Most bands put their best song first, and I can’t figure out why this song was placed first, or better yet, why it wasn’t left off the e.p. entirely.
Okay, catharsis over. The rest of the album is actually pretty good, despite the seemingly programmed drums and stock Creed-vocals used in most songs. “Shed” opens with moody keyboards and drums, joined later by some nice, heavy guitar rhythms. A big, flappy bass drum, some nice, flanged guitar and non-Creed vocals make “Margo” an instantly likeable heavy ballad. The title track, “Ashes,” is easily the strongest, and most haunting, song on the album. Opening with industrial guitars backed with an otherworldly keyboard sound, “Ashes” has a spooky, edgy sound with some really good, emotive vocals in the comparatively sunny bridge. The final track, “Crawl”, has a Marilyn Manson feel about it, some good guitar work (long live the Wah pedal!) and an oddly off-tune solo melody whose tortured sound could only have been evoked from a genuine Casitone.
Take away the first track and Ashes E.P. is an admirable first attempt to capture an edgy, techo-metal sound that is rare to Fort Wayne stages.
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