Orion – On the Banks of Rubicon

 

orion pic

    It is fair to say that India is a potent metal scene still relatively untapped by the rest of the world. It is a shame and a little surprising as the amount of bands which thrill and impress there is a constant hint, especially in regard to extreme metal, of just how strong the scene is. Progressive death metallers Orion provide another enthralling formidable nudge with their EP On the Banks of Rubicon. Four tracks of riveting and persistently unpredictable invention, the release is a burning beacon of skill and imagination which should not be ignored.

     Consisting of guitarist/vocalist Vigneshkumar Venkatraman (also of Albatross), guitarist Ashwin Kulkarni, bassist Anshuman Bhattacharya, and drummer Pritesh Prabhune, the quartet from Mumbai was formed in 2008 and released their first demo Reverie Hours two years later. Taking inspirations from the likes of Death, Opeth, Necrophagist, Gojira, Periphery, and Protest The Hero into their blend of progressive and death metal with plenty of further essences to captivate the imagination, the band makes a compelling persuasion with On the Banks of Rubicon. Strikingly merging melodic and carnivorous intents into a landscape of provocation which startles and seduces from start to finish, the EP is a masterful exploration which sculpts a formidable declaration for not only the band but Indian metal as a whole.

     Opening track Oh Sweet Ebullition immediately seizes ears and attention with thumping rhythms and sonic craft, the guitars coverwrapping sonic tendrils around the senses whilst expanding a melodic enterprise through reserved but open grooves and instantly persuasive riffing. It is a magnetic entrance which lures thoughts and emotions into the heart of the melodic and groove metal mix brought with predatory energy and breath. A sudden dip into melodic elegance opens the door for a torrent of rapacious provocation, riffs and the heavy growls of Venkatraman spawning rabidity in the track as it goes straight for the jugular. It is an intensive evocation which commands the senses before without warning diving into a progressive and melodic stretch of beauty and mesmeric seduction. This is subsequently entwined within the sinew driven death bred aggression of before to ignite an even greedier hunger for the song. Only half way in and the encounter has taken the breath away with its power and invention, something which never relents up to the final second of the six minute plus tempting. Nothing on the song is repeated beyond the passage seeding any particular moment and along with the excellent vocal fusion of guttural vitriol and clean melodic deliveries impressively helps drive the song straight into the passions. Like a union of Motherjane, Bhayanak Maut, and Opeth but with much more uniqueness, it is a rigorously incendiary and thrilling start to the release.

    Devoured Existence enters next on a blaze of skilful sonic colouring which again ignites the imagination straight away, priming it for the harsh creative jaws of the track which scar and provoke. A thrash kissed surge to the riffing is tempered by the death metal spawned vocal delivery and surrounding imposing shadows but this itself is only subservient to the again outstanding guitar invention and menacing basslines which control it all. Predictability is once more completely absent in the creative maelstrom, classic metal spirals of sonic ingenuity descending to defeat expectations whilst the song niggles with almost pestilential efficiency enslaving the emotions as fully as its predecessor and the following triumph Astral. Almost eight minutes of simultaneously rampaging, crawling, and seducing adventure, twisting melodic and doom metal with a blackened wind over a progressive death metal, the third song is a scintillating encounter. Once more Motherjane comparisons spring to mind at times and certainly at the beginning, as does those to UAE band Absolace but it is only a small flavour in an ever evolving and shifting soundscape which entrances and violates with equal success and grandeur. The best track on the release it reveals and screams out all of the impressive elements and skills of Orion in songwriting and presentation. One of the best extreme metal tracks heard in a long time it can be the doorway to the widest recognition with a slice of luck.

     The EP closes with the most direct death metal track My Dying Prayer, but again there is plenty of invention unleashed to bewitch and wrong foot the ears for the richest satisfaction, everything from vocals to guitar mastery, bass snarling to rhythmic manipulation impressively addictive.  On the Banks of Rubicon is an exceptional encounter all should take a big chunk of time out to investigate. It will impress and thrill whilst maybe opening the gateway to an undiscovered world of invention driven metal in the band’s homeland. Be brave and go for it we say.

https://www.facebook.com/orionmumbaimetal

http://www.transcendingobscurity.com/

10/10

RingMaster 15/01/2014

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Chamber: City Of Seven Hills

We do not get a lot of music come our way from India but when it does make an appearance it is rarely disappointing and often quite superb as is the case with the new single from Chamber. A magnificent captivating blend of progressive metal and rock, City Of Seven Hills is quite simply outstanding and a deeply impressive teaser for their debut EP planned for later in the year.

From Guwahati, Chamber consists of vocalist Bhargav Talukdar, guitarists Dishankan Baruah and Aditya Bordoloi, bassist Shan Singha, drummer Sandeepan Baruah, and Writam Changkakoti on keys. Formed in 2010 the band creates music which wraps itself around the ear with the gentlest of caresses but a power and craft which leaves one energised and enthralled. Technically and inventively though not so much in sound the sextet remind of Motherjane, both bands the most accomplished songwriters and producers of ingenious melodic beauty.

City Of Seven Hills opens on a lone guitar which instantly mesmerises and as the warm breath of the song from keys and atmosphere envelopes the ear there is an emotive energy which captivates. Scorching guitar play lights up the ambience before making way for the excellent vocals of Talukdar to bring the lyrics to life. The song is about their home city Guwahati, ‘where people migrate in search of a better life but many of them have to shut their pain away to survive everyday.’ It is deeply and strikingly powerful in word and sound creating the passion and depth of emotion in a stunning portrayal which is impossible not to immerse within.

As the song evolves it explores and creates textures of sound and emotion beautifully, the keys persistently inspiring an dramatic atmosphere punctured and driven by commanding yet reassuring rhythms. The guitars venture into plateaus of invention which dazzle and are easily matched by the unexpected progressive exploration mid song, its entrance a surprising and thoroughly enjoyable piece of imagination.

City Of Seven Hills is wonderful and as mentioned the perfect invitation to the forthcoming Chamber EP. But do not take our word for it as the band has released the track as a free download so go and hear the proof of our words.

http://soundcloud.com/chamber-official/city-of-seven-hills

https://www.facebook.com/chambertheband

RingMaster 30/06/2012

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Xandria – Neverworlds End

It has been five years since German symphonic metal band Xandria caressed the ear with new material, the band to some extent taking a break but the wait is over with the release of their new album Neverworlds End, and what an impressive release it is too. The band returns with a new vocalist and the continuation of the majestic soaring sounds that set them up as one of the more important bands in the genre. This continuation does not mean it is more of the same though as the quintet has unveiled an album and sound that whilst retaining all the grace and elegance they always effectively offer, has a real bite to its sound now. The band has fused into their music a clear metal vein, a powerful and at times intimidating intensity which is glorious. This new flavour intensifies the album, its blending of menace and beauty into a formidable and striking release deeply inspiring.

Formed in 1997 by guitarist/keyboardist Marco Heubaum, Xandria has constantly built up a fervent fan base and impressive acclaim from debut album 2003 Kill the Sun and especially with their subsequent albums Ravenheart and India in 2004 and 2005 respectively, to Salomé – The Seventh Veil in 2007. Renowned for their stirring and dynamic live shows too the band in 2008 had to take stock with the departure of vocalist Lisa Middelhauve. With a couple of changes in between the band found and recruited Manuela Kraller (ex-Haggard and Swiss band Forty Shades)to front the band in the dying weeks of 2010, her live debut coming a few brief weeks after. Whether she was part of the instigation for the new approach found on Neverworlds End time will unveil but the band has returned with a new energy and intensity that takes them and the genre to greater heights.

Released via Napalm Records worldwide by the end of February, Neverworlds End as mentioned marks the debut of Kraller. With a style reminding of former Nightwish vocalist Tarja Turunen though with more restraint and self control, Kraller swoops and soars within the songs caressing the ear constantly but also finds a complimentary tone for when certain tracks bristle and pace with the metallic energy the album unleashes.

The opening track A Prophecy Of Worlds To Fall immediately indicates the new intent in town, the gothic vocal harmonies and keys from Heubaum soon joined by an ominous dark presence soon emerging as predatory riffs and rhythms. The track sweeps into warm symphonic realms bringing a theatre and emotion the band is known for but always there is the darker threat waiting, lurking for its moment to seize the senses. Kraller from the off shows her stature as a singer and a very satisfying skilled delivery, her voice riding easily upon the rest of sound created by the keys and guitar of Heubaum and fellow six string maestro Philip Restemeier.

The album has a strength and beauty throughout, tracks like Forevermore, Blood On My Hands, and The Dream Is Still, stylishly bringing together alluring melodies and harmonies with firmer and heavier intense elements. There is a drama and immense emotive grandeur throughout the album that sweeps one up on its eager arms. As good as previous releases were Xandria feel like a new band on Neverworlds End, as if they have emerged from an aural journey to a new plateau they were destined to build. There is still a place for their power ballads within this new direction as in The Lost Elysian and A Thousand Letters, but with an iron intent now guiding their flight.

It is when the band really crank up their metallic side the album really excites. The rampant energy of the heroic sounding Euphoria, the glorious imposing might of Soulcrusher, and the wonderfully chaotic aggression of the excellent Cursed, are magnificent tracks that fuse monumental beauty and grand melodies into a colossal potent metallic grip and attack. Drummer Gerit Lamm holds authority with his impressive demanding rhythms whilst bassist Nils Middelhauve casts grumbling and growling basslines into the ear with the utmost skill. He is a highlight in every song; his prowling attitude drenched playing masterful.

Neverworlds End is a total delight and announces the return of Xandria as an event to immerse oneself into. The band has evolved into a mighty handsome animal and with a hope they continue in this new intense and mighty vein, symphonic metal has never seemed so attractive.

RingMaster 17/02/2012

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