Past Life Regressions
(Equal Vision Records)
The technicality and charm behind ORBS’ music might be the most ambitious aspect of the prog metal band. Past Life Regression is the band’s second release, coming six years after their debut. It was more than worth the wait. ORBS transcend all boundaries throughout the record, adding the most eccentric bits to their music to really have it stand tall against anything else in the genre. Their songs sparkle against the glow of the night sky, twinkling brither than stars and bringing back the memories of being a child mesmerized by the world around us.
For a progressive metal act, ORBS focus on making their songs moving journeys between different parts. Above most transitional parts Adam Fisher’s vocals are the universe above the galaxy, ascending into their own space to boast bright melodies. The lyrics are entirely philosophical, but they bring home an otherworldly feel as Fisher discusses people turning into trees, sharks or whatever else he could concoct into a lyrical potion. His deliveries don’t distract from the movements either, something that a lot of prog vocalists can do by forcing parts to fit where they may not need to be. Fisher belongs with the music, showcasing how attached to details Dan Briggs and Ashley Ellyllon are in writing music that suits their style. “Exploded Birds” highlights this entirely, with the song turning from a frenetically paced song full of nostalgia before ending with a melancholic crumble of whimsy.
To be able to ride through epic, expansive tracks like opener “Death Is Imminent (However, Relative)” and slow down through others “Giving Tree Hanging Me” help scale how impressive Past Life Regression really is. The latter track is a piano ballad that haunts the listener as Fisher is forced to give up on the idea of love between someone. It’s like being stabbed in the back and living through it, forever responsible and distraught by suffering. “Dreamland II” features arpeggiated pianos flying behind the music, with Fisher being tormented by an image he was too young to see, now troubling his sex life. The pianos ride like the primitive being but Fisher is not giving in, “I’m not a sex driven entity.”
ORBS’ release might be the most interesting release of this year. Nothing has come close to gripping listeners with such wistfulness, embedded in the layers of music that Briggs and Ellyllon composed for Past Life Regression. The entire album could play out much like an opera score, with Fisher running through parts of life trying to collect what the hell makes him a human, and where his life will take him as he passes. The record is very much one of the most musical ones in the progressive metal world, with plenty of reasons to listen to a song and geek out at a specific part (especially how the record ends in an existential fit).