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Waste of Space Orchestra – Syntheosis

In a world where most inter-band collaborations are done by recording splits or the occasional guest appearance, Waste of Space Orchestra takes things to a whole new level. Comprised of all the musicians behind Dark Buddha Rising and Oranssi Pazuzu, what began as a Roadburn commission has transitioned to a proper project with full-length debut Syntheosis. Such settings inevitably lend themselves to chaos and Syntheosis is a disorienting listen. However, the fusion of styles is surprisingly natural and adherence to a conceptual format is enough to highlight the clear method behind the madness.

As someone better acquainted with Oranssi Pazuzu’s blackened space prog than with Dark Buddha Rising’s drawn-out stoner drone (droner?), I inevitably hear more influence from the former on this album. There aren’t too many extreme moments beyond the occasional faster chugs, but the guitar tones are raw with plenty of dissonant patterns and livelier rhythms. However, the ritualistic atmosphere and doomy tempos are more in line with the latter even if the lengths are nowhere near their twenty-minute runtimes. Further distinctions are highlighted between the clean/harsh vocal contrasts but a shared love for ambient textures and spacy effects prove to be the project’s biggest unifiers.

That dedication to atmosphere is probably how they managed to make a performance with ten musicians sound cohesive. The dual drumming sets up a solid foundation with often tribally-oriented beats, the bass, and deep bass fortify the textures with extra grime, keyboards and electronics mix creeping droplets and shrill screams, and the guitars offer layers of mangled terror in lieu of traditional riffs. Vocal lines are sparse and drawn out but having three vocalists on board allows for a variety of gurgles, shrieks, and uncanny cleans. This is hardly a classical work but the way the musicians are able to play off each other while working with structural ebb and flows sure lives up to that Orchestra part of their name.

Whatever cat-herding method they used also worked well in the songwriting process. “Void Monolith” and “The Shamanic Vision” make for great introductory passages but things really get going in the middle of the album. In response to the opening cacophonies, “Journey to the Center of Mass” opts for a scaled-back direction with heightened electronics and a hauntingly jazz flavor that gets more anxious and exotic on “Wake Up the Possessor.” From there, “Infinite Gate Opening” builds on some creepy chanting and “Vacuum Head” follows it up with a bass-heavy chug.

Waste of Space Orchestra could’ve been a self-indulgent train-wreck best suited for that one-off Roadburn spectacle, but their debut album is a masterful work of avant-garde metal. The dense instrumentation and esoteric songwriting will be a daunting challenge for all but the most intrepid listeners, but the purposeful execution should endear itself to those willing to absorb it all. Fans of the bands involved can consider this essential listening but anybody into the weirder sides of doom, prog, and black metal owes it to themselves to check it out. If they ever make a sequel, I’d love to see Attila Csihar come on board; this sort of weird nightmare fuel has his name written all over it.

“Journey to the Center of Mass”
“Wake Up the Possessor”
“Infinite Gate Opening”
“Vacuum Head”

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