EP REVIEW: Axis/Orbit - Axis/Orbit
by: Cyrus Rhodes
Genre: Alternative Rock, Psychedelic Hard Rock, Jam Band, Soul Rock
Sounds Like: Black Sabbath, Days of the New, Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam, Kenny Wayne Sheppard, Zakk Wylde, Alice in Chains, Lenny Kravitz, The Doors
Weakness: Engineering aspects (Recording, Mixing, Mastering), EP release
Axis/Orbit makes Rock and Roll. Stoner rock, retro rock, doomy, but unabashedly not metal.... More of a cavalcade of 60’s-70’s rock styling’s from the menace of Sabbath to the spiciness of Floyd’s cosmic tracks, to the heavy prog-jam trio art of Cream and Band of Gypsies, with strokes of classic Cali folk rock, vintage grunge and straight up garage rawk. Axis/Orbit just released their latest 3 song EP in 2014. Band consists of: Mike Margulis: drums, percussion, vocals, Bill Fridrich: guitars, vocals, Lee Greenman: 4 and 6 string basses, vocals. EP was released in 2014
The EP quickly takes to flight with methodical intro piece “Hazy”. This song serves up infectious rocked out musical ambience against mesmerizing vocals, hypnotic acoustic guitar, harmonies, mind blowing solo guitar meshed against driving rock rhythm that gently leads you by the hand down the path of rocked out musical indulgence. Track 2 “The Owl” shifts gears a bit with its methodical intro, trippy alternative rock vibe and infectious vocals from Margulis. Track 3 “Riot Canal” is an impressive instrumental that is full of musical peaks and valleys that flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. To me Axis/Orbit sound like a more modern psychedelic version of Days of the New and Black Sabbath. This EP has a jagged edge almost as if you are watching a band play live. As the EP slowly unfolds I can hear many musical influences reminiscent of a classic Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam, Kenny Wayne Sheppard, Zakk Wylde, the Doors, Black Sabbath and Alice in Chains. I would classify this music as unplugged Soulful Rock and Alternative Rock with a fun and eccentric Psychedelic, Indie College Rock flair. The EP at times presents brilliant peak and valley flow via a strong artistic perspective. Besides the four piece standard you will also notice rich layers of melodic soundscapes, heavy rhythm guitar, lush harmonies, sonic vocals, exotic sound effects and mind blowing solo guitar, all built on a thick as a brick rhythmic foundation. Margulis and Greenman collectively showcase impressive yet soulful singing skills throughout. Their powerhouse vocal delivery are pretty solid across the board as Axis/Orbit and company are clearly letting it all hang out in a fun way with this release. I really enjoyed the solo guitar work from Fridrich. All production aspects check out. EP possesses solid low end punch and crystal clear high end clarity - but sounds like a production released 20+ years ago. Margulis has an effective baritone and the vocal harmonies are effective and well placed. At times his voice reminds me a bit of Scott Weiland (Stone temple Pilots and even Lenny Kravitz. This short but sweet 3 song EP has something for just about everyone.
Some of the Engineering aspects (particularly the Mix) sounds a bit off kilter when compared to other modern Progressive Hard Rock CD’s within the genera released in 2014. The way Track 2 fades out in the middle of the song is a bit unorthodox and would sound better via a cross-fade technique merging both segments together more seamlessly. I typically deduct 1 star for EP releases. The Full Length CD is the most complete snapshot to judge an artist by at any given moment in time.
This 3 song EP by Axis/Orbit is an impassioned, compelling musical journey. This band is making waves in New York for a reason. Its strong suit is its amazing writers touch and heavy song for song musical flow. Margulis and the gang get high marks from me for delivering a primarily rock based EP while keeping a “live” Jam Band feel - nice touch. This EP will be a real joy for those listeners out there who want a old school rock-based musical experience to fill their atmosphere. This straight forward, easy to digest musical format makes for a great musical experience many will enjoy beyond NY. I recommend you just hit play, close your eyes and see where the journey takes you.