December 3, 2005

CD/DVD Review: Orange Sky - Upstairs

I am going to open this with an odd parallel. Listening to Orange Sky, I was reminded of bands such as Sepultura, Puya, Soulfly, and Rammstein. Let me also say that Orange Sky really sounds nothing like those bands I just mentioned, but they do have something in common. Before I get to that common ground, I must give a simple fact concerning my perspective, I am American and a fan of rock and metal music.

Now for that thing that Orange Sky shares with those seemingly different bands. Different cultures, that's it. These bands have developed their sound and attitudes in a culture different from mine, they have different histories and a different variety of influences. These differences all combine and expose themselves in their music. Their sounds are different than what I would hear from homegrown bands. In other words, they bring a sound that is recognizable, yet distinctly different than what I normally listen to.

They bring together elements of metal, rock, and reggae in a concoction that is unique, yet easily accessible. Upstairs has a mix of anthemic rockers and smooth ballads. The proceedings have a pleasant flow that helps the album feel like an album, as opposed to a collection of songs.

Upstairs begins with the acoustic tinged "It's Over." a song that picks up the pace and shows that these guys can rock as well as play restrained, while having a sound that stands out. This is followed by the excellent "Escape." This track is where I become more impressed with the band, as the play some heavy edged riffs, with fast lead breaks, and lead vocals that have a clipped style.

Other highlights of the disk include "Angels" a heartfelt mellow rocker, and "Dogs", a slightly sludgey/bluesy that evokes a little Black Sabbath alternating with a much lighter edge. I love how the latter song slips between the two sounds. There is also an excellent cover of Cat Stevens' "Peace Train". The album comes to a close with the heavy "Tug of War" and the pleasant ballad "Alive".

One thing seems apparent is that this band has an incredible amount of energy, yet they sound oddly restrained. Their a number of places where they seem to want to break free of the recording studio shackles and flat out tear it up. Plus they are hampered by a mediocre mix, which makes the drums sound pretty bad and processes the vocals a bit much on the reverb. On the plus side, the guitars sound fantastic throughout.

The band is led by Nigel Rojas, who lends his good yet limited voice, excellent lead chops, and very good song writing skills. Backing Nigel are Adam Murray, who adds depth with his rhythm guitar, Richard Hall on keyboards, Nigel's brother, Nicholas, on Bass, and Obasi Springer on the drums.

Included in this set is a DVD. This DVD contains a 5 minute clip of a documentary, where we see Nigel and the band in their native Trinidad, showing some sights and pointing out the local cuisine. The meat of this disk is a 26 minute clip of a concert in their hometown, recorded earlier this year. This disk demonstrates the energy that is only hinted at on the CD. Nigel's voice does not seem to be in top form, but his energy and guitar playing more than make up for it. The crowd is into it, and the band just seemed to feed off of it. Makes me want to see them live. The audio is presented in a rather flat sounding Dolby Digital 2.0 and a fuller 5.1 mix.

Bottomline. This is a good debut for a band with an interesting sound. It is hampered by a mediocre mix, yet the band's ability shines through. Back to my initial point, it is always interesting to hear bands from other global destinations, the way different cultures affect a band's sound can have intriguing and satisfying results. Orange Sky is a band to watch.



Post a Comment