Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Oddland - Origin (2016)

The life of a band is not a dance on roses all of the time, just take the Finnish progressive metal band Oddland as an example. Formed in 2002, the band have won several different music contests over the years, but they started the band just for fun, not with any intentions of doing this more than a hobby. Somewhere along the way though, the band got more serious, involving more metal into their progressive rock, eventually landing a deal with Century Media in 2010. Now, the band has evolved into one of the most interesting progressive metal bands in recent years.

"Origin" is the band's second effort, and it is just as mysterious and intriguing as you would expect from the band. The melodies are perfectly cooperating with the more heavy beats, creating a captivating sound that twirls around you in a calm whirlwind. It would be just too easy to call this music... odd, but it does describe it fairly well, even if it does not skew all too much from the typical progressive formula.

It is kind of hard to compare this band to other bands, because their sound has a little mix of everything, fusing into something that you have not heard before. The singer Sakari Ojanen does have some similarities to both Mikael Åkerfeldt and Daniel Gildenlöw, but he has a darker tone that works extremely well with the sound, hitting the right buttons both here and there. As for the sound, it got some Tool, some Orphaned Land, some Opeth, and some Persefone, all blended into a dark and grand production that gives the sound great power. But as stated before, even if Oddland borrows influences from several other bands, it is not really fair to compare it to any of them, because they stand on their own platform.

Most of the exciting stuff of this album can be found on the first three songs. The opener "Esotericism" has a really heavy djent opening, not all that far from Mesuggah, but with more epic and clean vocals. The rest of the song is grand, taking up a lot of space in its three and a half minute run time. "Thanatos" is much calmer in its approach, but that changes around the half way point when the band does this small part where it feels like hell is raining down. The rest of the journey is chaotic, yet controlled in an interesting way. "Penumbra" ends the tri-fecta, and it is way more straight forward, where Sakari delivers some emotional vocals, and he is backed up with some neat guitar work from himself and Jussi Poikonen.

Those songs dominates the record, because the rest of "Origin" is good, close to great, but not very memorable. All songs have flashes of brilliance in them, whether it be a melody line, chorus, or a beat, Oddland knows how to engage the listener, pushing the right buttons. However, take out the songs individually, and they do not have the strength to hold up on their own. The epic "Faraway" may be the only exception to this rule, staying at the back half of the album and generating a great mood that is dark and scary, yet captivating. Ultimately, all of the songs work together, creating a cohesive and enjoyable album, but I would have liked more songs that I could just turn on without listening to "Origin" in full.

It is obvious that Oddland still has some way to go before they can go up against the big guns of the progressive metal scene, but they are heading on the right direction. "Origin" is a really nice sophomore effort that has its own cool sound, a dark sound that stands out strong. It still feels unpolished, but this is definitely a release that the progressive metal lover would not want to miss. It would not surprise me one bit if the next album the band releases ends up as a future classic.

Songs worthy of recognition: Esotericism, Thanatos, Faraway

Rating: 7/10 Skylines

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