Pretend I'm Human (NG Records)
By: Alex Steininger
Led by Chaka Malis, Orange 9MM parallel the city in which they come from, New York. They can be dirty and rough, cold and powerful, or big and bold. Their music is heavily populated with various sounds, both complex and simple, as they drive forward with splitting riffs every second of each song. On their first album in three years, the band comes back in full force and knocks you on their ass with pure, adrenaline filled hard rock.
From the sharp slice of the guitars on "When You Lie," to the yelling and screaming, Orange 9MM waste no time in making sure you haven't forgotten what they're all about. The bass is the center focus (besides the vocals), kicking out some of the meatiest, hardest beats you're ever likely to hear. The vocalist switches from rapping to screaming in a matter of a few seconds, and when the drums are going non-stop like they do, there is nothing that can stop them.
"Touching Skies" finds you listening to a completely different Orange 9MM, yet it is still unmistakably them. The soft guitar and fluttering rhythm section, coupled with the gentle singing and only slightly edged rapping, allows you time to rest and lets the band prove the vocalist can rap, and doesn't just yell throughout the album. A steady groove lines the song; the gentleness of the song allows you to sit back and feel the grooves. But, with a band this brutal, that doesn't last too long.
The title track brings back the chainsaw guitars and lethal rhythm section that beats at the heart of every song on this disc. "Innocence" is a weird song, especially for this band. The song is basically light percussion in the background and the occasional slice of the guitar until halfway through the song when they decide to put all the instruments to work. Then they fade out again and let the whispers close out the song. Honestly, the song is too long and too far removed from the band's powerhouse sound to really get into. Its length and erratic nature are just too dull.
"Tight Rope" is another erratic number on the album. Led by a piano, and featuring strings, the beauty of the song is masked by a dark, heavy feel, which isn't really present except in the vocals when they're present. However, unlike "Innocence," the band finds common ground on this one and is able to pull it off.
Back with a bang, as well as a few numbers that will either cause a heart attack or make you even more of a fan, Orange 9MM's latest is a hard rockin', rap-influenced album with a sensitive side. And, they're definitely not afraid to show the sensitive nerves when they're present, you got to acknowledge them for that. I'll give this album a B-.