The progression of Death Metal from underground heroes of extremity to well produced and clear sounding punishment has left many casualties and a sense of an identity crisis. Many bands look back to the disgustingly brutal atmospheres of yesteryear, of which Bloodbath is the quintessential illustration. Bands looking forward, take many of these aspects, or even other genres as a case in point of their march towards sheer brutality. Orbit Culture are by no means new but are a summation of these paths.
Nija breaks as a well-produced, but also rough edged approach. The drums are clear and powerful, as are their thunderous vocals, but there is still an element of chaos which lends a little atmosphere. The distorted guitars have this the most. They don't shy away from incorporating other influences from more technical or other waves of Metal, but the feeling is the old and new for something confused, yet powerful. And yet, through its confused identity of having it all, it manages to bathe itself in the genre and it works. Elements of more melodic atmosphere, rings out amongst the powerful weight it throws at you. If not guitars, then there is the use of clean vocals, a desire for variation perhaps, borrowed from elsewhere. What we're treated to is something far more rhythmic, with a lot of variation.
The chaotic energy that this produces lends itself to the vastly different songs 'At the Front' the blunt force trauma, 'Behold' the harmony at the centre of it all. Middle grounds offered in songs like 'North Star of Nij' seems to act as the baseline for the album but the energy produced that allows for songs to really give you something else, perhaps beyond the rest of the album. 'Open Eye' is a song that makes complete sense and yet singles itself out. The experimental power that we get with this song makes it feel like a Strapping Young Lad track with deeper vocals, but surprisingly, the clean vocals dart from Devin Townsend to something a lot more Metallica. Somehow this makes sense within the song – no easy feat.
This is an album that takes risks with what it wants but is a clear example of our times. Genres being redefined, influences from more than just Metal in a more open approach to the culture of music. We're seeing bands really push what is acceptable to crossover within Metal a lot more nowadays than we have before and it leaves the groundwork for bands like this to take from various influences and combine them for an authentically new, authentically Metal sound. A powerful album that perhaps many were not expecting.