After releasing their self-titled debut EP a few years back, followed by an appearance at the holy grail for stoner bands; ‘Desertfest’, London-based stoners Orbital Junction have rewarded the patience of their followers with the release of debut full-length platter: ‘Egos & Instincts’. Two years between debut EP and debut album seems like a long time, but you only get to release your debut album once after all. So, rather than rush out an undercooked product, Orbital Junction took their time and made sure that the eight featured songs were cooked to perfection and well worth the wait.
With the exception of the magnificent and all-guns-blazing ‘6ft2’, ‘Egos & Instincts’ is all-new material from Orbital Junction, which in essence means that those who shelled out for the EP in 2018 have no excuse not to part with their cash come September 18th. ‘6ft2’ is one of the highlights of the EP (buy it here) and it makes a welcome return on ‘Egos & Instincts’. A slighter shorter alternative version, it packs an almighty wallop, especially on the piledriving bass intro, and if you were to play both versions back-to-back then it would be impossible to miss the growth in the band. The riffs are beefier, the groove nastier, and the production is, understandably, light-years ahead. Bloody massive is the thought that springs to mind.
Although Orbital Junction plant their flag firmly in the ground marked ‘Stoner Rock’, there is plenty of variety on ‘Egos & Instincts’, and some of the same-old-same-old accusations that can make this particular sub-genre feel limited are nowhere to be found. Plenty of Kyuss, Down, Fu Manchu vibes peppered here and there, but look closer and you’ll find hints of acts like Orange Goblin, Black Label Society, and the just-reformed Black Spiders. In other words; bands that know how to balance power with groove.
‘Earthmover’ kicks the album off and the band waste no time in locking down a thick groove. The guitar melodies are rich and at times you might actually find yourself singing them. When you aren’t singing them, then you are bobbing your head back and forth along with the crunching riffs, or to the ‘Breadfan’ inspired guitar break around the three-minute mark. The groove intensifies on ‘Mary Kelly’, a track that changes direction a few times throughout, and features a spacey mid-section complete with vocal effects to give vocalist Owen a touch of early Ozzy. Staying with a Sabbath feel, musically, ‘Green Man’ is a sublime moment which in places causes welcome flashbacks to ‘Planet Caravan’, the slower tempo, the atmospheric shimmering guitar; magic stuff indeed (as is the killer crunch of ‘Queen of Mean’).
A thick, buzzsaw riff forms the backbone of ‘Gamblin’ Man’, something simple played really well, which proves that sometimes (no matter what Yngwie says) less-is-more. Great drum sound on this one and the jam mid-song is perfection. The final ten minutes or so of the album really pop out. First, ‘Addict’ with its sludgy riffs and pummeling drums (this is an album to be played LOUD btw) brings a strange air of calmness to the party, great change in tempo midway driven by the drum work from Jack. Then ‘Creep’ explodes to life with a maelstrom of riffs, great arrangements, pounding rhythms, and strong, powerful vocals. A track to be filed under “epic”.
‘Egos & Instincts’ has been well worth the wait, an accomplished debut from a British stoner band to give the Yanks a run for their money.
Available September 18th, more details here.
Review – Dave
Photo credit – Rakkan-Trabulsi