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Orphan Bloom - "The Wary Traveler" (CD/EP)

Orphan Bloom - "The Wary Traveler" CD/EP cover image

"The Wary Traveler" track listing:

1. Hole in the Ocean (5:14)
2. The Siren's Eyes (6:35)
3. The Wary Traveler (5:14)
4. Vanity's End (3:50)

Reviewed by on March 11, 2012

"Held together by a heavy atmosphere and a love of the psychedelic, Orphan Bloom’s 'The Wary Traveler' EP offers up a strong blend of metal, jazz, and old school rock across four ever changing tracks."

Helping to fill in that less-than-overflowing niche of underground prog metal comes Wisconsin’s Orphan Bloom, mixing together just about every type of music imaginable. Held together by a heavy atmosphere and a love of the psychedelic, Orphan Bloom’s “The Wary Traveler” EP offers up a strong blend of metal, jazz, and old school rock across four ever changing tracks.

The opening song “Hole in the Ocean” has it all, starting with an ominous and foreboding guitar tone that progressively gets more psychedelic until the full-blown funkiness breaks out and the bass shows up in force. The sounds are bizarre but still melodic, the guitar is all over the place, and the vocals are clean but still slightly gruff and brimming with emotion. In other words, it’s everything a proper proggy metal track should be. A fantastic transition also pops up as the title track seemingly ends mid-note without a proper ending, and then unexpectedly picks up again immediately on “Vanity’s End.”

The grunge-tinged vocals may not fully work for everyone, especially those hoping for something a little more on the extreme end, having a nasal tone and constantly being subjected to distortion effects. Although a bit of an acquired taste, this higher pitched rock type singing is actually a good match for the surrounding music, as completely clean vocals would be a bit too ordinary for the avant-garde music and death growls would be out of place.

While solid overall, there are a couple of issues that prevent the EP from being a knockout release. The biggest offender is easily the totally unnecessary outro to “Vanity’s End.” Sometimes while attempting to be unique or progressive a band may end up with an unfortunate misstep that isn’t enjoyable to listen to, as is the case here. The reverb/feedback/random note ending is frankly annoying, overly loud, and seems to be purposefully abrasive. It also goes on for more than a full minute, which seems pointless on a song that’s already under four minutes in length.

A couple of stylistic problems aside, “The Wary Traveler” is a head trip worth taking for anyone in the prog metal crowd, and especially for fans of Leprous, Haken, or Riverside.

Highs: Smooth mix of jazz and metal with a strong bass presence and plenty of psychedelic sounds

Lows: The vocals are a bit of an acquired taste, and the outro is atrocious

Bottom line: A jazzy and psychedelic mix of metal and rock that fits in well with the prog metal scene.

Rated 3.0 out of 5 skulls
3.0 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)