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Album Review

Coming out in the early '90s alongside Helmet and Quicksand, Orange 9mm amounted to the third, smallest jewel in New York's '90s metallic hardcore crown. Compared to the band's major label debut, Driver Not Included, Tragic — the group's second (and final) release on Atlantic Records — contains smaller amounts of vocalist/rapper Chaka Malik's aggro rhyming and a little more melody to satisfactory results. The minor hit "Failure" encapsulates the band's subtle shift toward a more focused brand of still malicious rap-metal. With all their hip-hop proclivities and groove-centric riffs, listeners might assume that the group was trying to cop an East Coast Rage Against the Machine vibe. That would be an incorrect assumption, as Orange 9mm's Tragic is actually a little funkier than the efforts of Tom Morello and his leftist homeboys. Fans are more likely to be reminded of funkier Angelinos Red Hot Chili Peppers (a much heavier version that is) when bassist Taylor McLam puts his thumbprint on slap-happy numbers like "7." The thick instrumentation and fat grooves deliver on every promise made during Orange 9mm's famously powerful live performances, but the adherence to of-the-moment metal sonics prevent Tragic from transcending its time. Strange production tricks (especially some thick vocal distortion) manage to limit heavy outbursts like "Tragic" and "Fire in the Hole," giving them a distinct mid-'90s effect that sounds unnecessary and dated. Malik was more than capable of generating his own intensity without adding once-stylish distortion to his spitfire delivery. Tragic remains a solid offering for fans of a small but important '90s metal movement. The results are convoluted and excessive.

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Formed: 1992

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Vocalist Chaka Malik and guitarist Chris Traynor met in the New York hardcore band Burn, and began playing together as early as 1992. With an early version of Orange 9mm, the duo released a live EP in 1993. The recording earned the band a contract with East West, and after picking up bassist David Gentile and drummer Matthew Cross, Orange 9mm began recording. Driver Not Included was released in 1994, and the band spent time touring with Helmet before signing with Atlantic the following year. Gentile...
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Tragic, Orange 9mm
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