Orbweaver - Strange Transmissions From the Neuralnomicon
Corpse Flower Records
Progressive Death Metal
5 songs (30' 59")
Release year: 2013
Reviewed by Andy
Archive review

With the re-release of Miami death metal act Orbweaver's last album, Strange Transmissions from the Neuralnomicon, on Corpse Flower Records, I've finally had an opportunity to check out this highly experimental but excellent group. Death metal vies for equal space with psychedelia on this album in a merciless fight to the finish that ends in a draw, but overall, the listener is the one who walks away a winner at the end. The album cover, consisting of rainbow-colored, sharp-toothed cartoon horrors, clearly depicts a visual of the craziness one hears.

The band seems to take pleasure in providing the unexpected to the listener. Xoxotic starts the album with a noisy mess of guitars that quickly get replaced with a quick succession of shrill leads: A shrieking downward progression with a synth effect behind it like the buzzing of a summer insect, fast palm-mutes, and in between, even noisier, bendier riffs. Those of Non-Being starts fiercely, but abruptly flips to langourous, clean picking with a whiny guitar effect, then back to rough handling, death metal style, before turning over the listener to drumming and picking that outmaneuvers most black metal in terms of speed. No sooner is the listener expecting that, then it's back to the clean psychedelic riff with increasing amounts of guitar noise mixing in. Crystal Prisms is slower and more precise, and the effects on this one are superb, calling to mind the sort of thing Hawkwind would do if they got into death metal; the solos are warped, amelodic monstrosities that shamble in and out through the song.

Tragic Orbit (A Doomed Cosmic Starship) continues the band's space-influenced themes with what I thought was going to be no death metal at all -- they use an echoing, mostly-clean instrumental riff for the first two minutes -- but then the face-meltingly fast riffing begins and doesn't stop. And then...the theremin starts. Yes, guitarist Randy Piro has one and is more than willing to use it, and they make it fit perfectly with the sound by dialing back the death metal to just drums, bass, and a little guitar noise, creating a delicious, messy confection that was my favorite song on the album. After that, The Church Warden Procedure is hard-pressed to top that one, but with Piro singing through an effects box to the the offbeat melodies of the lead guitar, it still doesn't disappoint. The band has no problem making a point by slowing the music down or pulling all instruments out except the one they wish to emphasize, and they end this track with a blunt, doomy riff that drags to sickening slowness as the song ends.

This took one or two listens for me to truly appreciate everything Orbweaver's doing here, but then, it's not particularly accessible music. However, once one gets used to the periodic ear-bludgeoning the band dishes out, there is a lot to hear -- and enjoy.

Killing Songs :
Crystal Prisms, Tragic Orbit (A Doomed Cosmic Starship)
Andy quoted 86 / 100
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