Orion – On the Banks of Rubicon

Reviewed: December 2014
Released: 2012, Transcending Obscurity
Rating: 3.0/5
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson

Originally released in 2012, the debut EP by Mumbia, India\’s, Orion – not to be confused with the 20 or so other bands with that moniker currently listed on The Metal Archives, including three from the U.K. alone – has been reissued and is starting to get some attention outside of their home country. And rightfully so. As progressive death metal goes, this four-track EP is ambitious, well executed and rather accomplished – despite some weaknesses, the most obvious being guitarist Vigneshkumar Venkatraman\’s odd, wheezing “death” vocals that sound like Cannibal Corpse frontman George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher with a chest cold.

These guys are obviously skilled musicians and have studied well the lessons of Western bands of the ilk, notably early vintage Opeth or Atheist and latter day Death, along with some Fates Warning for that extra progressive flair. The tracks here are complex and involved, with tempo changes galore and Jekyll and Hyde mood swings that demand plenty of dexterity and guile – and the band prove they are more than up to the challenge.

The opener “Oh Sweet Ebullition” slingshots between turbulent death metal, shimmering melodic breaks and soaring choruses, with a hint of Iron Maiden in the divebomb guitar harmonies of Venkatraman and Ashwin Kulkarni. Their work is stellar throughout. “Devoured Existence” is less elastic and has a more full-on tech-death feel, especially when it shifts into overdrive midway through.

The centerpiece of the EP is the eight-minute epic “Astral.” It opens with a long ethereal passage showcasing Venkatraman\’s more natural clean vocals and builds into a sparring match of riffs, drums and Anshuman Bhattacharya limber bass forays. “Astral\’s” Opeth influence is rather obvious, but the performances impress nonetheless.

“My Dying Prayer” concludes the EP on a decidedly brutal note, powered by the propulsive drumming of Pritesh Prabhune. Venkatraman\’s growl is a bit better suited to the more streamlined viciousness here, but it still sounds a bit forced and awkward – never quite capturing the menace it\’s meant to. Still, the song rips.

On the Banks of Rubicon is certainly a promising start for Orion. The performances are impeccable, the production is fantastic and the band have written a handful of compelling – if familiar – tracks that showcase not only their chops but their compositional savvy. Once they develop a sound that is more their own, and Venkatraman gets his vocals sorted out – he might be wise to go the Mikael “…kerfeldt an ixnay the death growls altogether – the band could really make some waves.


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Track Listing:
1. Oh Sweet Ebullition
2. Devoured Existence
3. Astral
4. My Dying Prayer

Vigneshkumar Venkatraman – guitars, vocals
Ashwin Kulkarni – guitars
Anshuman Bhattacharya – bass, backing vocals
Pritesh Prabhune – drums