“This will be one of those concerts that people fiercely envy you for attending.” Orbit Culture reaffirm their standing as metal’s next big thing at a sweaty, sold-out London Underworld

During their first-ever headline tour, Swedish up-and-comers Orbit Culture rocked the Underworld’s foundations with a groove metal/melodeath armada

Orbit Culture
(Image: © Sabrina Ramdoyal)

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If you keep up to date on the state of death metal, you’ll at the very least have heard of Orbit Culture. Although the Swedish crew formed as far back as 2013, they truly started to shake up the scene during the pandemic, when the groove/melodeath blasts of third album Nija hit hard enough to wobble fillings and shatter glasses. The band have capitalised gloriously on that impact since live music’s revival, touring with such stars as In Flames, Trivium and Machine Head.

Tonight, however, isn’t about Orbit Culture continuing their campaign of growth. It’s the four-piece’s first-ever headline London show, as part of their first-ever headline tour, and in front of a sold-out Underworld they’ll indulge in the fruits of their labour thus far.

Before the band even siege the stage, it’s apparent they’ve learnt plenty about presentation from their arena-sized support slots. Tubes of light reach from drummer Christopher Wallerstedt’s kit to the roof of the venue, symphonic bombast bursting from the sound system. Then the gig ignites proper with Black Mountain. Pulled from new album Descent, the cut continues Orbit Culture’s winning formula: casting athletic guitars against mid-paced percussion and a melodically sung chorus. It’s the most invigorating elements of Metallica, Fear Factory and In Flames united, and by follow-up song Strangler, everybody’s rapt, hurling singer/guitarist Niklas Karlsson’s roars of “Get out! Get out!” right back at him.

North Star Of Nija begets an extra shot of spectacle, CO2 cannons spewing smoke on both sides of the stage. Plus, as a standout from breakthrough Nija, it incites the first big chorus singalong of the evening, 500 rapt acolytes howling the motivational lines, “Don’t cry! You are here when you need to be!” All the while, Karlsson retains his split-legged power stance: Gibson Explorer in hand, he bears all the hallmarks and crowd control of a potential James Hetfield in the making.

During Alienated, it’s lead guitarist Richard Hansson’s turn to encourage London’s rowdy behaviour. After commanding that the circle pit (which hasn’t stopped since the first song) swirls around the pillar in the centre of the auditorium, he hops into the eye of the storm, losing himself in the whirlpool of metalheads as he plays. “Rest in peace, asshole!” Karlsson quips as he and bassist Fredrik Lennartsson gaze at the carnage, but their bandmate’s grin as he returns to the stage suggests he’s seldom felt more alive.

A closing sprint through From The Inside, Saw, While We Serve and Vultures Of North unsurprisingly maintains the frenzy to the show’s very end. If anything, a wall of death in a club that has a fucking pillar in the centre of it marks the height of the madness. It’s a sight which only reaffirms that, from tonight selling out to the ravenous crowd and the impressive visuals, Orbit Culture will quickly outgrow this kind of venue. Given how much momentum has already amassed behind this band, it feels like, in just a few years’ time, this will be one of those concerts that people fiercely envy you for attending.

Orbit Culture setlist – The Underworld, London, March 10

Black Mountain
North Star Of Nija
The Shadowing
See Through Me
From The Inside
While We Serve
Vultures Of North

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.