"We learned so much from In Flames": Orbit Culture have toured with some of metal's most legendary names, now they're ready to conquer the world on their terms

Orbit Culture
(Image credit: Press)

Vocalist Niklas Karlsson and guitarist Richard Hansson can hardly believe the progress they’ve made since forming Orbit Culture in the small, isolated city of Eksjö a decade ago. Fresh off a UK tour with Trivium, they’re reflecting on their achievements. As Niklas states: “Just an hour ago when Richard came over, we were watching clips of Meshuggah play live. And we realised, ‘Holy shit – we’ve actually played with them six times!’” 

After two albums released as a “computer project” and playing a smattering of local shows for fun, it wasn’t until 2019 that Orbit Culture landed a touring spot, opening up a four-band bill supporting Rivers Of Nihil in Europe… but then the following year’s international crisis nixed all future endeavours. “I’m quite happy people didn’t see us much then, as we’re way better today,” Niklas admits, laughing. 

The forced inactivity worked in the quartet’s favour. Their third album, 2020’s Nija, created a buzz far beyond their shores and meant they emerged from isolation with a ravenous fanbase. Niklas pinpoints Sweden Rock festival in June 2022 as the moment they realised what had happened. “We didn’t expect anyone to show up,” he says. “We were the second band up on the first day. During the pandemic, we’d only seen the comments online, but we never expected as many people to show up as they did. From that day on, it’s been a real rollercoaster.” 

The tours that followed, with the likes of In Flames and Avatar, influenced the direction of 2023’s blistering but catchy Descent album. “We found out that the songs on Nija were hard as fuck,” laughs Niklas. “So we toned it down a bit, and created more live-fitting songs for [2021 EP] Shaman. But we liked Nija, so we decided to combine those two approaches on Descent. We created these songs, but also we wanted to be able to play them live.” 

“During our two tours with In Flames, we’d always be on the side of the stage, watching and learning so much,” adds Richard, who also references Parkway Drive’s development from metalcore bruisers to an arena band as something that inspires him. “That found its way into the writing. You should always write what you want, but I think that helped mould us more into a live act.” 

As for the future? There’s another upcoming dream tour, with Machine Head in North America. After that, Niklas promises a new EP, and plans to end the year writing another full-length to capitalise on the band’s promising momentum. There are still dreams they have yet to achieve… 

“We have played with so many bands that are our heroes, but we’re still waiting for that Gojira tour,” jokes Niklas. “We’re still going to take it day by day and be the band that we want to be. But there’s no stopping us, I can promise you that.”

Descent is out now via Seek & Strike. 

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Adam Brennan

Rugby, Sean Bean and power ballad superfan Adam has been writing for Hammer since 2007, and has a bad habit of constructing sentences longer than most Dream Theater songs. Can usually be found cowering at the back of gigs in Bristol and Cardiff. Bruce Dickinson once called him a 'sad bastard'.