Review by Felix on September 24, 2023.
Sometimes you can put a lot of effort into something, but a little detail destroys the overall result. Perhaps this is unfair, but who has said that the world is a fair place? In case of Sentinel Sirens, a new duo from Sweden, the destructive element is... no, not the somewhat infantile, but ignorable artwork. Instead, I am speaking about the dude called Heval Bozarslan. More precisely: his relatively clean voice.
As much as I regret it, it sounds powerless, odd and lacks charisma and dedication. It seems as if he happened to pass by the recording studio and read the lyrics off the page out of boredom. The sufferer from his “performance” is the listener, of course, but especially his musical partner Andreas Engman, who manages all guitars, drums and bass. There are no problems on the instrumental front. Okay, it is not the most exciting thrash of all times. It does not spread Bay Area vibes and no raw thrash massacre of the Teutonic kind turns your living room into a battlefield. Nevertheless, the riffs are pretty well-defined, the rather traditional song structures are not the result of a million mathematical thoughts and the duo has found a more or less good balance between melody and aggression.
Somehow their style sounds a little antiquated or even dusty, but that doesn't automatically mean it lacks charm. I enjoy the fact that there is a bit of bands like Trauma, Wargasm or Hexx in the approach of Sentinel Sirens, but the guys do not reveal an obvious influence. Perhaps Agent Steel is the biggest one, at least their legendary debut or “Omega Conspiracy” (rediscover its forgotten killers like “Illuminati Is Machine” as soon as possible!). By the way, I haven’t found killers on Orbithian Waves, but an acceptable number of pretty cool parts shows up. Instrumental parts, of course. Just listen to the melody lines of 'Monstrum Pandemum'. The gloomy riffing at the beginning of 'Chaos Unbound' also promises a great track, but as soon as Heval has woken up, the song tuns out to another ambivalent experience. It’s sad, because the general approach and the quite proper production would have deserved a better total result. "Maybe next time" says Heval with his thin voice.
Rating: 5.8 out of 101.73k
Review by Greg on April 26, 2023.
Just when you thought nothing in the thrash field could surprise you anymore, a band like the newborn Sentinel Sirens comes up and shakes all your certainties. A project where a drummer plays all the instruments, delivering speedy, no-frills thrash metal mixed with '50s sci-fi movies? How often do you hear something of this ilk? Granted, the core concept of their debut Orbithon Wave is so friggin' cool I really would have appreciated seeing it more exploited, apart from the lyrics and artwork, but the risk of getting carried away with samples and falling into White Zombie territory was tangible, I guess.
Moving on to the music, main man Andreas Engman (formerly of Searing I) brings an all-around truly great performance to the table. More than his speedy, straightforward drumming, it's the guitar parts that really catch the eye here, with riffs that recapture the '80s/speed magic like few modern bands manage to do, and a not terribly acrobatic, but still skilled and tasteful enough to paint a big smile over your face, leadwork. With such a convincing showcase of versatility, ruining the whole thing with subpar vocals would have been a pity, and for what it's worth he was sufficiently humble to refrain from taking vocal duties as well and asked for help from a colleague. Smart move.
Which brings me to the next issue – the new dude ends up being the weak link nonetheless. Goddamnit.
I later learned that the man's actually Heval Bozarslan, vocalist from minor cult black/death metal bands such as Sarcasm and others, but without any kind of context the 'friend of Engman who owed him a favor and agreed to record vocals even if he'd never done that before' seemed the most logical. For reasons unknown, he tries his hand at clean singing, maybe in an attempt to channel his inner Mike Muir/Joey Belladonna, but inevitably lacking the charisma of both, delivering every line without any kind of passion whatsoever. He fails, and fails horribly, to be blunt.
This puts me in a difficult position. Bad vocals are something that can break an album for me, (almost) regardless of its quality. But Orbithon Wave is so engaging that I can't be harsh on it. It's got a couple of skippable tracks, but it managed to keep my interest for most of its playing time nevertheless. There are even some cool touches like the slower bridges on 'Fury Of Atlantis' and the great 'Thalus Masterplan', or the frankly beautiful solo on 'The Dome Cyclotron', but the whole thing is by and large a coherent mass of speedy riffing, on-point shredding and some legitimate scorchers ('Planet Lament', 'Monstrum Pandemum'). Unfortunately, even on the best tracks you'll have a hard time focusing on the music and not just wishing for Bozarslan to shut up for a goddamn second. Among his worst moments, the lullaby-like chorus of 'The Dome Cyclotron', or the flat-out annoying one on nadir 'The Drowning Of The Oceans', but it's just the tip of the iceberg. Such a shame.
Summing up, Orbithon Wave is a honestly good, if far from revolutionary, album, worth it to hear a drummer absolutely killing it on guitars – not something you see every day – and clearly written with a vision in mind, as almost every song oscillates between 4 and 5 minutes of length. Had it been released in 2003, I have no doubt metalheads would be more lenient with regard to the vocal shortcomings and cherish it as a lost classic. But in nowadays' landscape there's just too much good competition around to make yourself ill over what could have been. There's potential, if nothing else.
Rating: 6.2 out of 101.73k