ORB: Naturality

ORB are a trio that sounds like a trio -- the surprises are few and tedium is bountiful.

ORB is an Australian rock band, not to be confused with the American band Orbs or the British electronic duo known as The Orb. They scored themselves some attention with a 2016 release named Birth, and their sophomore release Naturality arrives just one calendar year after the debut. I wish I liked it.



Label: Castle Face
US Release Date: 2017-10-06
Label website
Artist website

ORB is a trio that sounds like a trio. They do not fool the ear. There is no finessing of sound, no subtle nuances to usher their rawk riffs out of the Paleolithic age and into something more varied. Lead-off track "Hazlewart" manages to conjure up the sound of Black Sabbath attempting to write their own "Pick Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk" rip-off. This delightful spark of recognition is short lived. After that, Naturality slumps into an eight-song, 43-minute slog where the sludgy guitar riffs get drunk on themselves and the singer keeps assembling melodies from the same four or five notes. "Could it be is that there is not a point / We overstayed our welcome," they admit in "A Man in the Sand", a song that feels longer than its 3:42 length.

These things would be forgivable if ORB utilized the length of their songs. Alas, these extended lengths never become a means for growth or expansion. They just keep going for the sake of going. "O.R.B." is almost nine minutes. "Immortal Tortoise" and "Rainbows End" both exceed six minutes. It could be that, when the band is in the moment, the members of ORB lose themselves in the jam and are convinced that their songs are pushing forward. But many musicians already understand that playing music and listening to music can be two entirely different things, especially in genres that like to drag out the length times. This understanding is lost on ORB, who bang on and on and on like a kid who can't hear his parents begging for him to stop playing with the hammer.

The musicianship found on songs like "Motherbrain" is some well-rehearsed knuckle dragging, à la Rush prior to Neal Peart's entry. Somewhere in "Flying Sorcerer", they manage to change the tempo just a little before going back to their previous crawl. On "Rainbows End", they threaten to introduce some badly-needed psychedelic diversity into the mix. But then, as if they were afraid of getting caught in the act of doing something not masculine enough, they have to bounce it off the dumb, heavy riffs again. Being the last track on the album, "Rainbows End" and its miscellaneous noises arrives too late to break up the monotony. And that's about all there is to say about ORB and Naturality. Coming up with more to say would be about as redundant as the music itself.


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