Review Summary: Without losing sight of their roots in heady, esoteric imagery and groove-tastic absurdism, The Odious take a leap of faith on their trilogy's final installment and conclude with their most personal and rewarding journey yet.
After a seven year break, expectations were high when word broke out that The Odious would be returning to the scene to finish their trilogy. Luckily,Vesica Piscis is a dense and thought-provoking thrill-ride that tows the line between a cathartic change of pace for the band and staying true to their past.
Taking the brutality of the first EP That Night A Forest Grew, the ultra-progressive leanings of their 2012 album Joint Ventures, and combining those elements with heaps of experimental production, The Odious give birth to a heartfelt yet harrowing tale of a not-too-distant future in ruin.
"Repugnant," the albums first single, hinted at the album's frantic energy and new style of production in subtle ways like squelching synths and percussive guitar lines that would make Ron Jarzombek blush. Guitarist Spencer Linn's face melting tone has an undeniably guttural sound to it, and it is a perfect match to his and Patrick Jobe's bear-like howls on "Hastor the Shepard Gaunt" and "Heavy Rhetoric."
The pair's intertwined rallies and confessions set themselves all the more apart with inspired lyrics throughout on songs like "Arbiter of Taste." Where so many bands in metal focus on carnage or philosophy, Spencer and Patrick balance this with confessional-style lyrics of addiction and depression with refreshing clarity and focus.
"Pinnacle of the lowest point, the ones who care I disappoint
And you'll be pleased to find out the world is run by snakes like you, why don't you join them now? Now I see your ghost animating your bones, I see what's left as you dissolve on your throne"
But long-time fans need not fret that any heady references have been lost on the band. Compare the above confessions to the incredible opening lines of the brilliant "Hastor the Shepard Gaunt."
"Welcome, child! To the gala of everlasting indulgence, I am the penchant chief Kosmn Bhahtaq, address me by my name."
Spencer's clean singing has leveled up many times over this time around as well, crooning smoothly over occasionally grungy moments a la Jerry Cantrell or Michael Keene between screams.
Even when it gets difficult to discern certain guitar parts, the bass heavy production fattens up the melodic sections of the record in an almost sludgy but pleasing way reminiscent of early Baroness or Intronaut.
The album covers so much ground in it's 50 minute run time that at times, thinking of accurate comparisons can prove not only futile, but exhausting. Fans of Meshuggah, Vildjharta, and Between the Buried and Me will surely find satisfaction, but The Odious only sound like those bands for seconds at a time. Progressive elements abound referencing Cthulu and Euripides, but rather than mythology, the big takeaway here is how the band uses these metaphors to paint a modern portrait of the effects of depression, indifference and addiction. It's not a pretty one.
The opener "Scape" starts with deeply descending piano lines and abruptly stops with the sound of someone literally walking away. The same exact thing happens in closer "Fix," solidifying the themes of addiction, indifference and isolation dissected on the record. It's not a comfortable moment in either instance; in fact, it's downright confusing at first. But both are clearly intentional parts of the bands ultimate vision for cohesion in their trilogy. It just takes a couple spins to understand.
While the album is meant to capstone a trilogy, it presents a lot to digest on it's own. It's filled to the brim with creative instrumentation, with just the right amount of experimental production thrown in to keep things fresh.
When "Fix" is thankfully resuscitated after it's startling pause, a winding classical solo guitar serenades listeners to the words "The bull*** that we say, the lies that we have spun, the people that we play, the harm that we have done."
It's an uncompromising look at both themselves and the world around them, and in doing this they manage to side-step the expectations of a comeback album with something different altogether. As mesmerizing as it is brutal, Vesica Piscis juxtaposes raw emotional honesty with incredible musicianship to prove several times over that the band are still a force to be reckoned with.