Review: Orbiter ‘Head Wounds’ EP

As an American in 2022, usually when I think of the state of Florida these days, it’s unfortunately wrapped up in unpleasant thoughts about evangelical book banning, anti-gay/trans vibes, a cult that’s authoritarian-curious, people who want to shoot hurricanes, and/or the coronavirus, and a giant, orange monster that’s relocated down there. I must remind myself there’s way more to Florida than right-wing, fever-swamps, and in retrospect, it’s easy to be reminded of the state’s rich history of rock & roll, to say nothing of being a worldwide mecca for death metal.

Orbiter 'Head Wounds' EP

Well, here we have Orbiter (not surprisingly, there are more than a few bands rocking that name) from Gainesville, and according to my exploration, these four musicians, vocalist/guitarist Jon Reinertsen, lead guitarist Matt Walker, bassist Jonathan Hamilton, and drummer Brad Purvis. They’ve been kicking around their local scene for a long time, playing together in various other bands, before forming Orbiter, and releasing their debut Slow Revolution back in 2014, before a five-year gap that yielded Southern Failures in 2019.

Orbiter have now released Head Wounds, a new, four-song EP that jars the listener’s attention right off the bat with the immense drum beat from Purvis, some volume squalls from Walker, and some delicious, fuzzed-out bass from Hamilton announcing the EP’s title track, Head Wounds. Once Reinertsen’s sung, melodic vocals kick in, I instantly think of some ‘90s grunge, perhaps with some noise, but with Torche-style vocals, which isn’t surprising, as I’d imagine the now-defunct, legendary Miami band’s impact was most certainly felt by Orbiter. Head Wounds serves as a nice opener and gives a great initial impression of Orbiter’s sonic blueprint.

The first single, Eyes Like Clouds, keeps the mid-tempo groove and chuggs along nicely with Reinertsen’s melodic, catchy, vocals complimenting the band’s heavy, yet non-menacing march, whilst Hellmates has a stone-cold, earworm riff, and some pulverizing rhythm action from Purvis and Hamilton. Not to be outdone by his locked-in rhythm section, Walker unleashes some ripping shred as Hellmates brings the house down on the way to its conclusion. An EP highlight.

Reinertsen’s melodic, catchy, vocals complimenting the band’s heavy, yet non-menacing march..

Head Wounds reaches that conclusion with Transmissions, which begins as a mid-tempo, twinkly-guitar affair that unfolds into a heavy psych fest, led by Walker’s guitar histrionics and that ever-present, pounding, grooving rhythm section of Purvis and Hamilton that eventually makes its way to a trippy, melodic, soaring outro, and serves as a decent exclamation point to the EP.

Orbiter mention Kyuss, Fu Manchu, and Helmet, when describing their influences. I definitely hear some Helmet, especially with that pounding rhythm section, but I’m not getting Kyuss/Fu Manchu vibes here. To my ears, I hear more of a ‘90s grunge approach, mixed with fellow Floridians Torche, which again seems logical, as noted, but additionally, Jonathan Nuñez, who played both guitar and bass with Torche, engineered, mixed and mastered Head Wounds at Sound Artillery Studios in Miami.

Headwounds was a fun EP, the lethal rhythm section, and Walker’s riff/shred being of particular note, as it’s obvious these guys have been playing together for a while, and have developed a pretty cool sound. Perhaps, in time, they’ll eventually become the new torch bearers, pun intended, of melodic, Florida heavy now that Torche have called it quits. I’ll keep my ears open for what Orbiter do next. 

Label: Salvaged Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Martin Williams