Recorded in 2006, Orion is the latest release by Ryan Adams, done through his own label and only in a vinyl/download package. I wonder about that choice of release since I would have preferred a CD. But whatever.
The album was described ahead of time as metal-influenced, but my first listening made me think of punk more than anything. With mostly one- and two-minute tracks, I was reminded of Adams's side project of one point, the Finger. Anyone own the Finger CD? Horrible shit. I've tried a few times to get into it and it isn't great. So, my hopes for Orion were immediately low as I expected more of that.
I was wrong.
There is an element of noise pollution in the music, but the more you listen to it, the more the melodies come through. It's a concept album about a space war. I haven't been able to follow the story much since the lyrics are screamed and drowned out a lot by the guitars. But, there is a big sense of cohesion throughout as songs blend together and flow from one to the next.
In a few places, Adam shows off his vocal chops with high-pitched singing including one end to a song that seems taken from dozens of metal songs.
The content of the lyrics seems unimportant almost. Certain snippets get through, certain lines like the final song ending with the reptition of "end of days." Orion seems more like a piece of music you stick in the background and and listen to as such. The vocals are just another instrument, working with and against the rest of the song as needed. None of the songs really stand out except for "Fire and Ice," because it changes things up by slowing down and using a lot of pianos. It's a little interlude and it's the longest song at 3:48... the next longest song is 2:49.
What I'm finding difficult is placing this within the rest of Adams's work. It doesn't sit well next to his official releases. This is more like the throwaway Finger stuff or his various online personas where he'd release dozens of tracks online for streaming, but it's mostly stuff you wouldn't pay money for. Adams flexing his creative muscles and having some fun. This is more polished and cohesive than that other stuff, but it's also somewhat disappointing since it lacks the depth of his regular output.
It almost seems right that I won't have it on a real CD, just a copy I burn myself. But, I am enjoying it and that's what matters.