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I try not to set up direct comparisons between similar bands too often. Metal is already viciously competitive enough as it is. Besides, multiple bands plying the same idiom deliver value through their idiosyncrasies, not their similarities. You don’t listen to both Asphyx and Hail of Bullets because they sound very similar, but rather because they don’t sound quite the same.

Sometimes, though, it’s impossible to avoid these comparisons. Such is the case with Orbweaver. This Miami band features Randy Piro (ex-Gigan & Hate Eternal) on vocals and guitar, and Sally Gates (also ex-Gigan) on guitar. Orbweaver has evidently been around for several years, but Strange Transmission from the Neuralnomicon is their first release. They play twitchy, trippy tech death that sounds a lot like the first Gigan record.

This makes a lot of sense, as Piro clearly had a great deal of creative input on that album. It’s a shame that both bands are putting out albums in close succession, as they are different beasts with their own strengths. (Check out a new Gigan track here.) While Gigan has gone off in a smoother and more technical direction, Orbweaver remains jagged and human. It’s a vicious scrappiness, bolstered by Piro’s rapacious vocals. The music feels like it could collapse into formless noise at any time, but never does. The guitar interplay between Piro and Gates is often astounding — shattered-glass chord voicings and gauzy effects layers wrap and weave around a rhythm section that grooves more often than it flails. Orbweaver is even patient at times, especially on the instrumental “Tragic Orbit: A Doomed Cosmic Starship”. Back in 2009, Cosmo presciently said that Gates needed her own band. We are lucky that she’s found one.

I’ll say it again: this is a really exciting year for forward-thinking death metal. Stalwarts like Ulcerate and Gigan have excellent new material on the way; prodigal sons like Wormed and Gorguts have returned in excellent form. And there is fresh blood for this mighty, mutated company too. I expect a full-length on my desk within the year, people.

Doug Moore

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