ODDLAND

The Treachery Of Senses

01. Above And Beyond
02. Flooding Light
03. In The Eyes Of The Mournuing
04. Aisle of Array
05. Past The Gates
06. Still The Spirit Stays
07. In Endless Endeavor
08. Sewers
09. Lines Of Silver Blood
10. Ire

[4/30/12]
[Century Media]

Someone has to popularize the term Nordic Progressive Metal. With bands like Leprous, Ihsahn, Shining, Enslaved, Vintersorg, ICS Vortex and Borknagar, there’s clearly something brewing up there in the northern regions of Europe. Cue Oddland, a Finnish quartet who won a national metal competition to get signed on Century Media. And they definitely fit in line with the mentioned bands as a force to be reckoned with in Progressive Metal. Imagine the groovy undertones of Gojira, Meshuggah and Lamb of God employed in a Leprous-like flamboyant progressive fashion. Imagine vocals that sound like Daniel Gildenlow of Pain of Salvation. And odd mix, is it not? Well, that’s what Oddland sounds like. Their debut album The Treachery of Senses is an enjoyable and refreshing joyride of progressive metal that will hopefully establish Oddland as a force to be reckoned with.

For starters, singer/guitarist Sakari Ojanen has a great and very mature voice. He sounds like a mixture of Daniel Gildenlow and Eric Kalsbeek of Textures. He can carry an entire song with a soothing melody — like in ‘In Endless Endeavor’ for example —but he can also hit hard and become the centerpiece. There aren’t any harsh vocals except for a short section in one song, but it’s not really necessary anyway. Let’s be straight here, what mostly carries Oddland is his voice and how his singing is integrated into the song. And what makes them interesting is that he doesn’t exactly sound like your typical prog metal singer’ his voice has that Finnish edge to it that makes him sound very unique. But that’s not the only thing about Oddland that is so fresh. The secret Oddland formula actually lies in the songwriting and how everything comes together.

The songs are constructed very deliberately. Some songs, like ‘Above and Beyond,’ have one central theme that is explored and extrapolated through the entire song. At first the rhythm is played by the guitars, and then the drums join in. Then as the song keeps evolving, the guitars start doing something different but based on the same theme, while the drums still carry on in that fashion. Throughout the song the same rhythm is constantly added to and traded off between instruments, but it’s done so well that you don’t really notice it unless you pay attention. One can easily tell that Oddland are a very rhythmically driven band. Unlike djent bands, they’re not obsessed with rhythm, but they are strongly based on it. The rhythmic development and experimentation in their songs is why they can be likened to Meshuggah. Also, their songs are very groovy, to the point where many of them evoke Gojira’s hypnotic, heavy grooves. Some songs, like ‘Still the Spirit Stays,’ are groovy to the point of being evocative of Lamb of God. It all comes together; the groove, the rhythmic experimentation, the progressiveness and all the mellow parts. They form a very pleasing whole.

The album isn’t without its flaws though. Some of the later songs don’t have the same gleeful innovativeness (yes, I know that isn’t a word) to them, which makes listening to the album in one go a bit of a drag. It starts off so strong, but kinda dies off near the end. The songs aren’t really bad, but they just go from the cool, unique mixture that I’ve been talking about to more mellow, traditional progressive metal. This isn’t a huge negative mark on the album, because the songs are still good, and the ending track ‘Ire’ is very powerful; it’s just that between the midsection and the ending there’s a drop of energy.

Back to positive things, the production on the album is absolutely phenomenal. Prog metal legend Dan Sawno has done an exceptional job on this album. Every note is very audible, and the guitar tones are very mellow yet punchy. The drums are perfect for groove; very snappy and natural. The bass is also audible at all times, which is very important in progressive metal. Actually, while on the subject of the bass, this album is very diverse in its usage of it. Some of the more groovy songs have slap bass sections, the mellow songs have fretless bass solos and the rest of the time it’s just the right amount of punchy. Back on the production, another thing that makes this album unique is its aural quality. The band sound like they’re playing in the same room as you; it’s as if they’re casually rehearsing right in front of you. This adds a natural, honest quality to the sound, which is one of the more remarkable aspects of The Treachery of Senses.

Overall, this is a very strong debut for a clearly talented band. It has a few flaws, but its uniqueness, interesting songwriting, and unorthodox production make up for it. If you’re a fan of progressive metal and you want something fresh, Oddland will not disappoint.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuYgrvXUgSQ]

Oddland – The Treachery of Senses

4.5/5

– NT

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