After three years of cross-country collaborations, ORBS has united in anticipation of their debut full-length album, Asleep Next to Science, which will be released on August 17th on Equal Vision Records. ORBS is a spectacular blend of the progressive and experimental sounds of Adam Fisher and Clayton “Goose” Holyoak (Fear Before), Dan Briggs (Between the Buried and Me), Ashley Ellyllon (Abigail Williams/Cradle of Filth) and Chuck Johnson (Torch Runner).
Asleep Next to Science was recorded at The Basement recording studio in Winston-Salem, N.C. with producer and engineer Jamie King [Between the Buried and Me, Alesana]. The nine song, 66-minute album is the product of long distance friendships linked through an appreciation for nature and music, expressed through an intense mixture of classic and space-rock interludes and high-energy, piano-laced choruses. Lyrically, the album transports the listener through a vivid, almost conversational, storytelling experience in a unique and mysterious manner.
The abstract project began after Ellyllon, a classically trained pianist with over 20 years of experience, reached out to Briggs regarding a potential collaboration with his full-time band. “I was looking for other musicians to work with and was having a hard time finding people in Arizona,” Ellyllon recalls of ORBS’ humble beginnings. “I had admired Between the Buried and Me, so I messaged them to offer myself as a studio keyboard player. Dan checked out some of my music and messaged me back. It turns out that we’re both music nerds, and immediately started geeking out over mutual bands we liked.”
Briggs elaborates, “We started writing and were already musically and creatively involved for a couple of months, before we had even met in person.” It was the immediate intensity of their connection that further drove them forward and inspired them to push ORBS from secret side project to the main stage. With the recruitment of additional band members, Ellyllon and Briggs were able to transform their artistic visions into a grandiose reality.
Though most songs were written and arranged between Ellyllon and Briggs, it wasn’t until Fisher added vocals that the music truly started to take on a life of its own. Briggs explains, “I loved his voice. He sang on a Between the Buried and Me song and I knew he had to be a part of ORBS. It’s been fun to hear him get quirky and weird over the songs.” He adds, “It was nice when we finally got to the studio ‘cause all five of us had never been in the same room together before that point. It was great to get the vibe of feeling like we were a real band…everyone started contributing ideas and really feeling like the songs were their own.”
Unencumbered by expectations, parameters or traditional structure, the contrast of diverse personal styles and techniques among members creates a truly memorable balance of sounds and stories. “I like to tell a story and since those guys are all over the place, I can be all over the place, too. They give me complete freedom to go crazy,” Fisher notes. “I go nuts and try different things.”
Because of this organic, free flowing style of writing, the band has developed their own unique method of linking together their asymmetrical ideas. “We write a bunch of parts and draw a physical map of the song,” Briggs reveals. “They were mainly used for adding keyboard parts and textures, trying to decide what kind of moods were being put off by a certain part and the colors or feelings that could be attributed to it, and then interpreting that through the keys or guitar texturing.”
“It’s an acquired taste,” Ellyllon admits about their distinct sound. “This band throws you off with lots of ‘What the fuck?’ moments…but I hope people will give it a chance, since there are so many little things to appreciate. You will catch them the more you listen.”
Asleep Next to Science may go against the grain of what anyone expects of these metal mavens, but their otherworldly collaboration stands out as the work of true artists, pushing the limits of traditional music methods. Ellyllon concludes, “ORBS is not heavy and people are going to hate or love it, but whatever the case, it has a lot of character and it’s not middle of the road.”