Pretend I'm Human

Orange 9mm

Ng / Artemis Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


What hath Rage Against The Machine wrought? Ever since they burst forth onto the scene, it seems like there has been a plethora of bands hitting the scene who are merging spoken-word / rap with the power of alternative and metal.

Then there's the case of Orange 9mm, a band that ditches the political leanings of their musical godparents and goes out in their own mixture of spoken-word deliveries and well-crafted alterna-metal. Their latest effort, Pretend I'm Human, shows signs of greatness, but its weakness lies not in its overuse of the style, but rather its underuse.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The trio - vocalist Chaka Malik, guitarist/bassist Taylor McLam and drummer Matthew Cross - have just enough of an edge to their playing to grasp the fringes of metal, but they never push the distortion button over the edge to take away from the lyrics. (It should be noted that the band is augmented by keyboards and programming from Neil Perry.) It's not often that a fair balance between the two sides is reached, and Orange 9mm know exactly how to reach it.

For the first half of Pretend I'm Human, it seems like Orange 9mm can do little wrong. While it takes more than one listen to truly appreciate songs like "When You Lie," "Facelift" and the title track, the effort quickly proves to be worth it, as everything seems to click for the band.

The problem with Pretend I'm Human comes when the band tries to move away from structured music and into the realm of ambient spoken-word. Tracks like "Dragons (You Know I Love You)" and "Innocence" are flat-out head scratchers. It is almost like you're listening to works in progress - as if the band has the lyrics and delivery down, but they haven't had the chance to write music around the words. Simply put, it doesn't work.

After such a spirit killer, tracks like "Alien" are hard-pressed to bring Pretend I'm Human back up to a level of power it once had, and frankly, the obstacle is just a little more than they can overcome. Closing out the album with the short instrumental piece "Day One" might not be the best way to end the experience, but I can almost understand why they did so.

For all of the promise and excitement that Orange 9mm built up with the first half of Pretend I'm Human, I can only wonder why they chose to drop the structured melodies for a good chunk of the second half. After all, you don't send the mosh pit into a frenzy by whipping out the acoustic guitar mid-set.

Orange 9mm has potential, but Pretend I'm Human makes the mistake of leaving some concepts underdeveloped. Maybe next time, guys.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Ng / Artemis Records, and is used for informational purposes only.