Review Summary: Conventional mainstream metal that tries to be something different, but weak choruses and mediocre riffs never allow this to happen.
Breaking into mainstream metal is a lot harder than it might seem. The biggest problem (besides fickle fans) is that bands are rarely judged on merit and instead live or die on the marketing budget of their label. Basically, if the label pays to plaster your band name all over the internet and radio than the unwashed masses will flock to you regardless of talent or quality. If on the other hand you’re on an indie label, self-promoting, or your major label just doesn’t give a *** than you have to be a little bit more motivated. The best way to do this is to do something that sets your band apart from the masses. Unfortunately, shooting for mainstream acceptance also means that there’s not much you can do to set yourself apart without also losing the mainstream sound. It’s with that in mind that kudos must be given to Maryland’s Oddzar for at least trying to infuse their mainstream metal with a bit of innovation – even if it’s not really enough to make a difference.
The album begins with a song that shows a lot of promise. Its main strong point is that it is built in such a way that it is able to flow from more conventional rock sections into edgier, riff-oriented parts creating a slightly more epic feel than there really is. This allows the song to segue from quick guitar harmonies into clean melodic riffs as well as include a fast break in the middle while still utilizing a strong catchy chorus that fits with every section. “Dogs of Demikhov” is the only other song to really display the same level of promise. In order to get to the good part of that song, though, you must first wade through nearly three minutes of standard radio rock. After the opening few minutes, the song moves into a slow, melodic, moody section that slowly builds back up before climaxing with a strong chorus and ending with a quick punky section. Unfortunately, the rest of the album doesn’t show nearly as much promise.
For the most part the album is conventional alt. metal full of moderately paced songs that are built around catchy choruses and uninteresting riffs. The only appealing parts seem to occur when the band tries to move away from the more conventional sounds and structures of mainstream metal. The chief way they do this is by including sections within each song that might comprise something a little more moody or heavy or simply more musically unique. The problem is that the weak choruses and conventional riffs that they inevitably return to generally ruin these attempts. The only other appealing parts of the album come about when the band blatantly emulate an outside influence such as the quick atonal Voivod
-ish section near the end of “Calling Out” or the many references to Tool
that are scattered throughout the album. These elements do show a desire to do something different – to a point – but that desire is quashed by a steadfast adherence to all of the most conventional aspects of mainstream metal (or alt. metal).
With two albums now under their belt it might be time for the band to break from the confines of their current sound because they’re not doing themselves any favors. Oddzar have a lot of good musical ideas from the guitar harmonies to the song structures themselves, but an abundance of mediocre riffs, weak choruses and a general lack of good ideas ruin their effect. This leads to an album full of songs without an identity, and without any compelling reason to ever come back to them. Their only saving grace is the occasional standout section that may briefly appear during a song, but at this point there’s too few of them to make it anything other than another face in a sea of faces.