Sentinel Sirens - Official Website
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 10137