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Breaking Orbit - The Time Traveller CD (album) cover

THE TIME TRAVELLER

Breaking Orbit

 

Heavy Prog

4.20 | 23 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Gallifrey
5 stars Over the course of this album of the year listmaking, I have often remarked the negative aspects of playing albums multiple times in order to make the ranking accurate. I have found how easy it is to start to hate an album after only 5 or 6 listens. Breaking Orbit's The Time Traveller is not like that. I have played this album a full 10 times, and I still don't really know what to say about it. It is as fresh on the 11th listen as it was on the first. And from all I know, this is the sign of a very unique album. Although my ranking of 41st may not seem excessively flattering, this is one of the few albums from this list I will actually come back to in the future. I do hope to revisit this list in a couple of years time, and see which ones I still want to listen to, and make a second list, based on how well it fared in time. And I believe this album will do very well.

It may be initially because this album doesn't really fit in any real box. On progarchives it is listed in "Heavy Prog", halfway between prog rock and metal, which is essentially accurate, but yet it isn't. From the moment I saw the album cover I immediately associated Breaking Orbit with deathcore. I apologise to the band for this horrible misunderstanding, but it really shows how important image is to how people judge you. And a cover that immediately reminds me of Born of Osiris isn't good. I actually like the cover, a lot, but it rings pretentiousness and tech 'brootalness', simply because of the bands that use that imagery. So naturally I was pleasantly surprised to hear the melodic atmospheric soaring of "Echoes". The band utilises atmosphere a lot, drawing immediate comparisons to Devin Townsend, the master of ridiculous numbers of vocal layers, but again it isn't that simple. There's also a strong use of post-rock tendencies, specifically reverb and delay on the more technically inclined guitar parts.

Despite definitely being within the 'progressive rock' label, most bands in the modern prog tend to ignore the 70's traditional prog, focusing on being progressive in rhythm, meter and structure only. But Breaking Orbit take it head-on, with many moments, specifically during "Machiguenga", but moments throughout the album bringing straight back to 70's prog with strong use of flutes and other wind, unusual in modern alt-rock. "Machiguenga" is also named after a South American tribe, so that may be the origins of the frequent use of interesting drumming techniques. I want to say there are bongos at times, but that sort of music isn't really my area. Either way, the use of flutes and odd drum techniques should appeal to the 70's crowd and possibly alienate the teenage crowd, who really just want catchy choruses and vast amounts of chugging, which this album also delivers, with some very heavy parts in "Cassandra Syndrome", "Orion" and "Silence Seekers", even bordering on metalcore/djent at times.

Which brings me to my original problem with this album, even though I have now realized it doesn't matter as much, but it's that this album doesn't really know what it is. You could call it 'genre-defying', but it really feels like the band want to include every influence they can, from tribal to prog to metal to even hardcore. It feels like something that I would write. Not that I would ever bring this accomplished band down to the level of an amateur like me, but the primary reason I have left composing to the side for a few years is because I need to settle on one style and go for it. About 6 months ago I had a doom metal phase and I wanted to form a doom band, then a couple of months later I had a prog folk phase, and the same happened. It feel Breaking Orbit haven't really thought about what they want to sound like, and just decided to put it all on one album. Admittedly, they do it quite well, the reason I've decided to look past it, but it definitely can be off-putting when playing the album as a whole.

However, I don't mean this as any criticism. This is a debut and it sounds like a debut. If you measure a bands ability by their debut then Breaking Orbit are well above their contemporaries, and I'd be happy if the band decided to focus on any of the styles portrayed here, since they can hopefully do it in a unique way. But 2012 has been a year of truly excellent debuts, from bands who really know what they want to sound like (Iamthemorning, Lithium Dawn and Natural Tendency are the main ones), so Breaking Orbit's may fall through the cracks.

As said earlier, I really don't know who to recommend this to, since there isn't really one distinct style, so I'm gonna say everyone. Everyone should hear this. There is post-rock, there's symphonic prog, there's metalcore sections, there really just is everything. Everyone should hear this and try to get their heads around it. A promising debut, and it has some fantastic moments, but promising is the primary word there. These guys have the ability to pull of something truly grand.

Edit (August 2013): this album is seriously amazing, once you try it out a few times you really get used to the range of influences, and "Cassandra Syndrome" is easy top 20 song from 2012

Edit 2 (July 2014): I'm definitely going to have to review this again.

8.8

Originally written for my facebook page/blog http://www.facebook.com/neoprogisbestprog

Gallifrey | 5/5 |

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