Monday, November 28, 2011

ODYSSEY - An Abstract Existence CD review

ODYSSEY - An Abstract Existence CD
Self Released
Genre: Instrumental Progressive Metal
Rating: 4/5

A little scrap of info I'd like to pass on is that Prog (aka: Progressive Rock/Metal) is now forty years old. When I first heard that last week (via a press release about the progressive metal bible put out by Mean Deviation) it felt like a Roger Dean Art Work coffee table book had been dropped on my head. Realization of age is a major thing. You know it exists but you just take it for granted, much like vocals in music. Take this band for example. ODYSSEY are a three piece act (aka: Jerrick Crites on guitar, Jordan Hilker on bass and drummer Lukas Hilker) out of Spokane, Washington who are self described as Instrumental Progressive Metal. Yes that's right no vocals, all music. Now I'm not ignorant of the whole concept as evident of my vinyl collection of surf/drag music and prog rock bands from the 70s. But as far as metal goes I've never been a huge fan of the style as far as pure instrumental metal goes. Although for some strange reason I'm still hanging on to a PELICAN disc. I do have respect for metal musicians who perform this style since you really need to keep people entertained or at least interested in place of vocals. I had this one playing over the course of a week just to see if these guys could hold my attention and be memorable. The answer is yes on both counts.

ODYSSEY stick to their progressiveness by keeping to the obligatory swift tempo changing compositions as well as theme repetition but are not so technical as to turn you off. That tends to be my problem with other acts I've heard. They clearly are talented musicians and their six cuts on An Abstract Existence are intricate as well as aggressive sounding. Their music has a tendency to draw in the listener as if this was an engrossing novel. At times it rocks with classic melodies, "Transcending the Earthly Form" for example. Other times they grab hold of you by the shirt collar dragging you along a jagged path like on "Cellular Deconstruction". As far as their long form cuts go there's no boring jams or math rock wizardry. On the title cut they actually sound like they're having fun invoking the mid 70's spirit of KING CRIMSON to a degree. I was expecting "Quantum Symbiotic Inception" to be totally early 70's FLOYD worship but I wasn't even close. It's more like a cornucopia of jazz fusion, thrash and doom. Think VOIVOD meets the MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA if that doesn't make your head explode.

Being from the perspective of "progressive-not" the last thing I'd call this is "forward thinking music", a term used by supercilious record store clerks when they blog on their off hours. ODYSSEY simply use tried and true, or is it "troo", structures which high school music teachers for years have been trying to get students to appreciate. As far as metalheads are concerned well that's another story. I must admit what I've termed as Progressive Metal usually consisted of a bunch of Europeans playing keyboard heavy melodic death metal with a chick in a prom dress or ball gown with a plunging neckline as their siren. I've also used the term Gothic progressive but obviously I've been wrong for a long time. I'm not too old to learn something new even though I'm older than Prog Rock. An Abstract Existence is a thoroughly enjoyable release when that feeling tugs at you, usually on Sunday mornings for me, where you just want to hear something relaxing yet edgy. Strictly for connoisseurs mind you or a great gift to that music teacher you once had who would give you crap for wearing a SABBATH shirt to class.


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