Sonic Universe – It Is What It Is (earMusic)

Monday, 13th May 2024
Rating: 9.5 / 10

A ‘supergroup’ tag can get banded about rather liberally in the music business. We all know that if like-minded musicians have the ambition, desire, and resources available, they’ll make music together. That’s the case here for the four-piece Sonic Universe. Consisting of Corey Glover (Living Colour), Mike Orlando (Adrenaline Mob), Taykwaun Jackson (Sworn Enemy) and seasoned bassist Booker King, the seeds started on the Shipwrecked Cruise last year between Corey and Mike, culminating in this debut record It Is What It Is. The open horizons approach throughout the ten tracks allows the band to explore everything from funk to rock, punk to metal – the personal / political content equally sharp to make listeners instantly engaged from first note to last.

The duality between maintaining memorable foundational riffs/melodies only to branch out into fierce jam-like innovation in the instrumental sections creates this edge of your seat anticipation track to track. Corey’s range, level of deep emotional engagement, and intensity makes him still at the top of his game even at 59(!) – his soulful, choir-like belt out aspects in prime form, while also executing in a rock/metal fashion to make “Higher” and the funky/progressive-oriented groove-minded “Turn a Blind Eye” immediate thrillers. Mike Orlando as a guitarist can be equally solid in his foundational tools yet ripping out the fleet taps, arpeggio runs, or crazy effects that make him seem like ten different players in one – channeling Tom Morello meets Yngwie Malmsteen for one break in the title cut, while being bluesy and funky for proper tastefulness or restraint in “Whisper To a Scream”. Even the rhythm section work moves in and around the rock, metal, punk, or funk styles to service the feel of each specific song, locking into some tremendous grooves with spirited fills on “Come What May” or the infectious, mid-tempo lead off cut “I Am”. Mike’s Sonic Stomp Studios accurately captures the vibrant tones in that masterful way – the energy off the charts pouring through your speakers.

Sonic Universe in a just world would be that next ‘buzz band’ selling millions out of the gate, playing to the masses as It Is What It Is has that ‘it’ factor in the quality performances, mesmerizing songwriting, plus positioning all these musicians in the best framework possible to achieve success. At least the world has another record that hopefully will blossom into more successive efforts, as this is too good to just be a one-off.

Sonic Universe official website

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