Maybe the hardest hitting album with an astronaut on the cover, ever, Inverted is going to be the first major milestone people look at when they Google (there are other search engines available…) A Dark Orbit. A big, brutal beast of a record, it may take some repeated listens to digest the ideas, patterns and sounds present. With the proper attention and a little patience however, this album gives so much while still demanding a lot of the listener. These thick, repeated grooves share the limelight with a seemingly endless amount of filthy, planet clearing beat/breakdowns. Hardcore influenced, progressive modern doom? Fuck knows. Leave the genre tags where they are for now and let’s dig in.
Maintaining the balance between disgusting low end and clarity isn’t a laughing matter and A Dark Orbit aren’t even smiling with the tones punched in here. There’s no such thing as enough of that guttural, open bottom string that keeps coming back throughout Inverted. It is so brutal but clear, even fans of more lo-fi production values on their metal will fail at resisting the urge to snap their neck to this. The obvious influences that inspire music like this are done no disservice with both the invention and simplicity of “Suffering” and “Wavering”. The former has one main riff that leers ominously over the rest of the instrumentation on the track, literally giving no fucks about the fretboard; there’s the simplicity. The latter snaps between impending doom and violent aural assault, whipping hair back and forth and leaving but one prisoner; the prisoner in this case is the listener, but it’s a low security prison full of gargantuan drops and air raid guitars. It doesn’t matter whether the guitars play one riff or ten in these tracks, the sway and groove this band possess is arresting.
It’s not all about the geetars though, is it? Definitely not when one Chad Kapper is the man whose pipes are doing all the damage. Fresh from tearing holes in time with his performance on Frontierer‘s Orange Mathematics, his vocals get more time to flex and bust out on this one. Hostile and commanding, Mr Kapper is. His hardcore shout is not the regular fit for this breed of extended range rock’n’roll but it works; “Lore Of Ocean” is an ass ripper of a track but wouldn’t be as punishing without Kapper, it’d merely be crushing. Paired with the two tracks on Inverted that reign back the tempo (while never sacrificing intensity) his voice gets to stretch out, with the barked words of a man with a lot on his mind. “Pretty Guts” and “New Age Sinkhole” are both pretty anthemic in their own right, helped by clean vocals and restraint, because constantly belting words out is sometimes too much. The themes on Inverted are fresh and progressive, without ever getting too high brow for our low-blood. Spacemen looking at an Earth they barely recognise? Perfect. Not a breath of astral plane bullshit or geometric nonsense.
Nothing is perfect in life, and Inverted is no exception. The drums sound far too muted in that they’re all still audible, the cymbals just lack attack and the snare sounds like a Hello Kitty kit. Pair a snare sound that hits like an angry message from an ex with a smattering of tracks that rely too much on basic grooves, there be the bad bits. More words could have fit well into these stanzas of hate, further elaborating on the core structures. If they had been added, this album would have been damn near perfect. As it stands, A Dark Orbit have still dropped one of the heavier albums this year that progressive and tech fans alike can get torn into, but some won’t “get” it. The people that do “get” this though, well, they are in for a fucking treat. This is the most atmospheric that heavy music of this ilk can get.
A Dark Orbit’s Inverted gets…