Review Summary: Oddland enter the realms of progressive metal with monolithic grooves, rhythmic complexity and soothing melodies.
Musical talent competitions in Scandinavia don't seem to have a lot in common with similar events in the rest of the world. In the land where metal music is respected and commercially viable these contests happen to have an actual effect on the development of underground metal scene. Finnish progressive metal act Oddland won the so-called Suomi Metal Star competition and thus were rewarded with a record deal with Century Media. The result is their debut full-length The Treachery Of Senses
, and it’s a testament to the remarkable abilities of the foursome that the record clearly stands out among their peers being an amalgamation of progressive technicality, supreme song craft and sinister atmospherics. Oddland combine all these elements so daftly and precisely that they can easily compete with the first league of progressive metal artists.
The most immediately distinctive element of Oddland's sound is a permeating sense of windmill-inducing groove that can be easily compared to the likes of Meshuggah and Textures. However, this reliance on rhythm is quite impressively merged with ethereal, much more melody-oriented soundscapes that have their origin in art rock. The quartet perfect this approach on such tracks as “Flooding Light” and “Aisle of Array” where massive technical metal passages co-exist with laid-back, yet equally elaborate moments of serenity. That certainly wouldn't quite work out without singer/guitarist Sakari Ojanen whose strong, baritone voice imbues the music with soothing melodies. His exclusively clean delivery might be a limitation of sorts, yet it's undeniable how powerfully melodic as well as hook-laden his vocals are most of the time.
As accessible as it may be, The Treachery Of Senses
is for most an ambitious progressive metal album that constantly revolves around various style and tempo changes. The album's best song “Past the Gates” takes a dreamlike jazz fusion vibe and merges it with some crazed, dissonant blasts in pre-chorus that can only resemble Tool. Although there are many elements on the record that can come off as a bit too direct Tool references, Oddland manages to retain their own identity with songs that flow smoothly and are expertly composed. Another minor drawback lies in the fact that most tracks follow a typical verse-chorus structure which surprisingly in case of Oddland still allows plenty of complex transitions. Dark, brooding atmosphere propels “Still the Spirit Stays,” and that's why the playful interplay in its ultra-technical bridge comes as totally unexpected. Elsewhere, “Sewers” proves that even more can be achieved without the structural limitations when a series of polirhythmic stabs delivered with admirable precision gives way to a much mellower segment built upon plaintive female vocals.
Aside from pristine musicianship and fine song craft, The Treachery Of Senses
also benefits from Dan Swano's production which strikes a perfect balance between clarity and weight. This provides the disc with its monumental scope, yet the main reason of the record's undeniable triumph is the quartet's constantly alluring instrumental presentation. With their refreshing multi-faceted variety of progressive metal, Oddland are prone to achieve a great deal in their forthcoming career. This record definitely serves as a bloody promising beginning.