The word “unearthing” means to dig up something hidden. “After dodging Nazis and snakes, archaeologists spent their time unearthing the Ark of the Covenant.” But perhaps the word should take on a new meaning, which is to “leave Earth.” As the name of the band suggests, Into Orbit want you to leave the planet on a journey. These guys want to unearth you with their recent release, Unearthing.
And they’re pretty successful. The first track “Dark Matter” builds layer upon layer, like a rocket ship adding parts in each stage rather than shedding them. From percussive noise, to a low-end rumble, to a sweetly catchy riff, to a ghostly solo, the track sets up the goal of climbing into the stratosphere. This is instrumental rock in the best way, which is to say it’s not just sans vocals; there is literally no room in the song for vocals. The band is a two piece and presumably rely on overdubs to achieve their layered sound, and a huge, room-filling sound it is, with ornate guitars squeezing in between lead slabs.
“Stone Circles” invokes monoliths with the title, and the intro rises slow and heavy, just like the stones used to build these ancient, mysterious structures. Ringing guitars provide some contrast, but tuned in listeners will feel the tension building, as it’s clearly just a matter of time until those stones tumble out. Right? Well, the tension goes on a bit longer than expected but the final minute explodes with another catchy riff as well as some high-end tremolo picking ultimately held down by double bass.
Into Orbit brings the mellow again, as the third track, “Scattering Light” relies on an arpeggiated guitar line and keyboards that hint at a ballad before more feedback-laden high-end wails, mournful and invoking a comet or dead satellite falling from the sky before crashing and exploding via one of the album’s heavier riffs.
“Equilibrium” builds a bit quicker, with a dirtier riff than the band has pulled from the landing bay thus far on Unearthing. The crawling foundation riff is augmented by some pensive almost-leads before plunging into a valley populated by some keyboards and crawling back up, Sisyphus-style, to a snarl of interlacing riffs.
The mood holds with “Caldera,” a more guitar-driven track that stays more static than any previous number—a welcome reprieve from build build build we must build. “The Archer,” up next, introduces a pointed riff that threatens to be the heaviest point of the song, but nope. Into Orbit starts heavy with this one and piles it on, both in terms of guitar and tempo before the expected drop. It still doesn’t reach the more peaceful valleys of some of the earlier tracks, staying distorted and foreboding before reaching a chugging finale, complete with some aggressive drumming.
“Unearthing” brings back the ringing guitars from earlier in the record, as well as waves of trippy guitar feedback before introducing a climbing riff. And then comes the finale, “Gilgamesh.” That title sets a certain bar, and, sure enough, opens with one of the more distinctive riffs of the album, complete with a playful closing turn. But the drums pile it on and the guitars build up… to a well-played head fake. The expected crescendo doesn’t pop out and, instead, the listener is thrown into an abyss of noise. The drums lead the way back out and, in perhaps the most patient construction on the record, fall into a solid riff that oozes tension from a monument of dissonance. The crusher comes after, and “Gilgamesh” is a fittingly epic finale.
Unearthing is an enjoyable album for sure, but there’s a downside. The band has a basic formula common to post-rock and -metal. Build the emotion and tension before landing in an explosive finale. In this case it’s a heavy riff, but with other bands it might be an emotive major-key section or a release of feedback. So, yeah, Into Orbit has their thing and they stay the course for the most part. But if you’re looking for a solid aural ride, by all means, step inside this orbital device and set the cruise control.
Unearthing is available now and can be purchased via the Bandcamp embed above.