Review: Orbiter ‘Hollow World’

Hailing from Helsinki in Finland, and formed in 2014, Orbiter have been carefully building and finetuning a sound for themselves over the last nine years and are now ready to release their debut album Hollow World through Argonauta Records to an unsuspecting audience this Friday, 22nd September 2023.

Orbiter 'Hollow World' Artwork
Orbiter ‘Hollow World’ Artwork

The four-piece, made up of Carolin Koss on vocals, Alexander Meaney on guitar, and Tuomas Talka and Sami Heiniö assuming bass and drum duties respectively, have taken their time, to craft eight tracks guaranteed to send shivers down your spine. It is equal parts blisteringly heavy and woefully ambient, and this really is such a treasure to behold.

Resting snuggly within the genres of stoner doom and psychedelic, if pushed for a similar band I think I would say at times they have an air of Windhand about them. That doesn’t mean they exclusively sound like Windhand, more so that they embody a similar intensity and depth of sound. Yes, there are wonderful parallels, especially with the guitar attack, which is similar to Windhand’s Garrett Morris, but the rest of the vibe isn’t overly a match.

Tracks such as Raven Bones, for example, really nudge me towards the Windhand comparison. I’m not saying this is in any way a bad thing, quite the reverse, as I find this to be one of my favourite tracks on the whole album. It’s a really good snapshot of Orbiter and hopefully will draw you into the band as this is only the tip of the iceberg really.

Right from the opening moments of the album, there is a devastating bass rumble that rolls in and obliterates the silence. It’s a chuggy, grungy depth, layered with doom and otherworldliness. Carolin does a phenomenal job of keeping its nose above water, and the vocal is exquisite in its majesty. As the track courses through, and the dizzying highs match the dank lows, the vocal is what keeps the piece levelled, and it really is a testament to the singer.

Beneath, track two, capitalises on the groundwork of the first track, and is more vibrant, again, with a grungy element, and is bass fuelled in its progression. By contrast, for all of the intensity of these first two tracks, and several more over the course of the album, the band aren’t shy at throwing in a couple of instrumental breaks, just to shake things up. Kolibri, track three, and Transmissions, track six, open up the scope on just what the band are capable of, and it is these little interludes which give a moment of ease to proceedings.

It is equal parts blisteringly heavy and woefully ambient…

Obviously, these don’t last for too long, and the reality is it’s just a temporary suspension of intensity, before the doom-laden goodness returns. Hollow World itself, track four, is almost seven minutes of pure unadulterated dank doom. It lurches forth, in a pained and sorrowful way but as it progresses, it increases in intensity, and by its peak, it is abrasive and mournful.

The real curveball for me though is track seven, Under Your Spell. For everything else the band offer up, this is uniquely different. It’s a simpler concept with acoustic guitar and wonderous clean vocal, but what it does is solidify the fact that the band are equal parts light and dark, and with this, it really highlights a warm depth in the band.

By the time Last Call rolls around to close the album off, the band have returned to that epic dark doom that they do so masterfully. It’s crushingly hard, but more so in mood than musically. The vocal carries the whole piece as it cascades down to its climax, and effortlessly drifts away. By the time it has finished, all I want to do is restart the album and play it through again.

For all of its dark intensity, there’s a real spark to it, which makes you want to relive it time and time again, and even after a few days of repeated plays, I can’t turn away from it. Considering how long it has taken the band to bring an album to the world, I think it’s been time well spent, working and evolving on a sound which hopefully will see them propelled to the big leagues in no time at all.

Definitely one to watch, Orbiter are just starting on a very long and creative career indeed.

Label: Argonauta Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Spotify | Instagram

Scribed by: Lee Beamish