Review Summary: A unique and refreshing take on progressive rock.
The origins of Opul are very much an enigma. The band seemingly came out of nowhere, releasing their debut EP Personnel
earlier this year on Bandcamp with little to no publicity or references. I didn’t know what to expect going in, but to my surprise Personnel
is one of the most polished sounding releases of 2013 thus far and the freshest take on progressive music I’ve heard in a long time.
Opul play an interesting blend of metal with progressive tendencies, but to call them a progressive metal band would be misleading. There’s little technicality to be found on Personnel
. All three songs (four including the bonus track) are straightforward heavy-ish songs with infectious choruses and relatively simple structures. Nothing on here is experimental or pushing any genre boundaries, yet at the same time none of the music is generic or predictable in the slightest. Everything sounds refreshingly new, and I think that’s the main thing Opul has going for them on Personnel
The vocals are perhaps the most unique aspect of the band. They’re entirely sung, which is fairly rare in metal these days and it’s a great call since screams would sound very awkward over this type of music. The vocalist doesn’t sing the entire time though, giving the instrumentalists their time to shine during the mellower sections and reserving his singing for appropriate times, emphasizing the more emotional parts of the songs. The tone of his voice can get a bit tiresome after a while since he uses the same tone throughout the EP. While some may find them monotonous, personally I find them to be refreshingly honest. He doesn’t try to do anything he knows he can’t – he sticks with what he does best, which is creating catchy melodies above the already melodic instrumentals, and I think he does an excellent job in that respect. The highlight in my opinion however is the glorious instrumental closer ‘No Important Decisions Today,’ which showcases their most atmospheric and forward thinking songwriting without ever becoming overbearing or pretentious.
is a gem bound to be ignored by many in the grand scheme of things. It’s a shame really, because with what sounds like little effort, Opul managed to create a unique, enjoyable progressive experience in only a little over 20 minutes - short enough not to drag and long enough to get its point across. To show this kind of maturity on only their first release really shows how bright Opul’s future may be if they come to realize their ever-present potential.