Ladies and gentlemen, after weeks and weeks of forgettable-to-painful albums making their way onto the docket and infecting these ears with the sort of malaise reserved for those in solitary confinement, I am proud to finally announce:
We have a winner.
Strange Transmissions From the Neuralnomicon, the debut EP from Orlando weirdos Orbweaver, puts everything right where it counts without ever taking itself too seriously. There’s a huge difference between this little slice and a great deal of ‘psychedelic’ or ‘space’ metal hanging around the fringes of the universe these days: Orbweaver sound like they’re having a fucking blast playing this material. There’s a tangible sense of energy that flows from track to track, and while there’s a LOT going on in each one, it’s never so much that it becomes a needlessly confusing or convoluted experience.
Opener “Xoxotic” starts with 25 insanely infectious seconds that sound like a circus that has your nightmares on display as opposed to elephants (unless elephants are your nightmare, in which case I’d like to apologize in advance to your therapist). What’s interesting about the rest of the track is that it constantly sounds like it’s about to collapse underneath its own heft. That’s one of the brilliant things Orbweaver nail on the head here: misdirection. It happens more than once that something grand seems like it’s about to form, then – BAM! – right back to the opening riff.
Now when other bands talk about being from space or playing space metal, what they generally mean is they bought an effects pedal. Strange Transmissions From the Neuralnomicon, on the other hand, sounds like it could be the soundtrack to a ’60’s program where a crew of STARgazers TREK around the universe (lawsuit: avoided; you’re welcome, LR legal dept.), if said program had 1) a time machine, and 2) awesome people in charge of the music and scoring department. After the blast-to-bong mindfuckery that is “Those of Non-Being” and the eerie feeling of imprisonment brought on by the pounding rhythm and hypnotic riffwork of “Crystal Prisms,” there’s a neat little surprise hiding: an instrumental song that conveys exactly what the title implies. “Tragic Orbit: A Doomed Cosmic Starship” contains what is essentially three acts of a film: Introduction, conflict/climax, and resolution. And it’s not a pleasant resolution, if you read the title instead of skimming over this like I know you are (assface).
As with any EP, there’s the issue of length that arguably makes it the perfect format. Is the material terrible? Oh, good. It’s only an EP. And if the material is outstanding, then the seeds have been sown for a guaranteed LP purchase. In the case of Strange Transmissions…, once “The Church Warden Procedure” has finished its excellent use of repetition and speed to make you think 8 minutes has gone by in less than half that time, you’ll be disappointed that another 5 songs aren’t about to start. Now, hypothetically, more songs of this nature might get a tad repetitive, but with craftsmanship and creativity at this high of a level, it’s more than likely that whatever Orbweaver offers us next is going to be devastating. For now, though, we must settle for simply awesome and fun.