Oddland – Origin – Album Review

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Artist: Oddland

Album Title: Origin

Label: Sensory Records

Date Of Release: 9 September 2016

Don’t you just love it when you ‘discover’ a new band? I know I do. It is one of the most exciting things that I can think of, even after over two decades of listening to music. Today’s interesting discovery is a band called Oddland, via their second full-length release, ‘Origin’.

Oddland are a Finnish quartet comprised of vocalist/guitarist Sakari Ojanen, bassist Joni Palmroth, drummer Ville Viitanen and guitarist Jussi Poikonen and their chosen weapon is progressive metal. However, this is not progressive metal in the conventional sense which is nice, because surely the whole meaning of ‘progressive’ is to be different and to forge new ways of doing things? So on that level, Oddland already score highly with me.

Oddland are not completely and utterly unique either, although as I type I am struggling to think of anyone else that’s within the same rough ball park as this lot. Mind you, if you were to put early Pain Of Salvation, Katatonia, Tool and Leprous in a blender, you might end up with something on vaguely the right stylistic path. Hell, while we’re at it, let’s sprinkle in some Distorted Harmony and possibly a smidgen of Pantera too. Why not eh?

During my research, I have seen the word ‘djent’ mentioned on more than one occasion but this is, in my opinion, misleading, and inaccurate. The style of Oddland is most definitely dominated by the word ‘heavy’ with the riffs courtesy of Ojanen and Poikonen sounding hard-hitting, powerful, and uncompromising, but they are not in the djent style as far as I’m concerned. The riffs are also deceptively intricate too. That’s not to say that djent riffs aren’t, but this is a genuinely different beast altogether, typified by plenty of clever shifts in direction and tempo, not all of which become apparent on first listen.

Perhaps the djent tag has been applied as a by-product of the fact that ‘Origin’ was mixed by Daniel Bergstrand, renowned for his work in the past with the originators of the djent movement, Meshuggah. Even so, it is still wrong, even if there is a hint of the Swedish giants in the opening twenty seconds or so of opener ‘Esotericism’.

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What Oddland are very good at, on the evidence of ‘Origin’ at least, is creating music that is technical and subtly complex whilst not forgetting the important ingredients of groove and melody. Add to that a refreshing succinctness to their song writing, an oppressive, occasionally claustrophobic atmosphere and plenty of drama it is hard not to get wrapped up in this impressive album. I say that the song writing is succinct because with an overall length of around the 45-minute mark, nothing about ‘Origin’ is overworked or outstays its welcome.

All-too-often in prog circles, a poor voice can down let impressive and tight instrumental prowess such as that on offer here. However, I cannot find fault with Ojanen’s vocals. I like the fact that he can belt out some aggressive diatribes with a cool raspy tone when the music requires it. But in general, Ojanen provides the extra layer of melody within the compositions to help elevate the album ever higher in my estimations and to enhance those much needed earworms that do emerge the more you listen.

Just take ‘Unknown’ as a prime example where the vocals are concerned as Ojanen moves from soft and gentle to all-out angst in the blink of an eye so apparently effortlessly. Mind you, I could have picked just about any of the nine tracks if I’m honest.

Whilst on the subject of individual tracks, I love the big bang that the aforementioned ‘Esotericism’ offers thanks to huge syncopated riffs, a muscular rhythm section, inventive vocal delivery, slick lead guitar work and more than a few catchy melodies.

‘Thanatos’ offers more of a sprawling feel with the bass catching my ear, whilst ‘Penumbra’ features arguably my favourite chorus of sorts on the entire record. It is huge and when blended with the various time changes and technicality, it works brilliantly.

‘Untrue’ has a really nice early Pain Of Salvation vibe to it thanks to the expressive guitar work and ‘Faraway’ is worthy of mention. It begins quite beautifully and, as the heavy headbang-worthy riffing enters the fray, I like the Cynthesis-esque lead guitar runs that sit just below the surface, not to mention the shifts in intensity throughout including a wonderful closing Pantera-style groovy riff.

Mind you, there isn’t really a weak track per se on ‘Origin’. Oddland have produced something rather tasty here and have gone from being off my radar entirely to placing themselves front and centre of my attention. Now I just need you all to have a listen, agree with me and spread the word. The word is Oddland and it needs to be spread far and wide.

The Score Of Much Metal: 8.5

If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out my others via my reviews pages or by clicking the links right here:

Sonata Arctica – The Ninth Hour
Edensong – Years In The Garden of Years
Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep Of Reason
Alcest – Kodama
Opeth – Sorceress
Negura Bunget – ZI
Epica – The Holographic Principle
Amaranthe – Maximalism
Eye Of Solitude – Cenotaph
Seven Impale – Contrapasso
DGM – The Passage
Pressure Points – False Lights
In The Woods – Pure
Devin Townsend – Transcendence
The Pineapple Thief – Your Wilderness
Evergrey – The Storm Within
Dream The Electric Sleep – Beneath The Dark Wide Sky
Periphery – ‘Periphery III: Select Difficulty’
Karmakanic – Dot
Novena – Secondary Genesis
Witherscape – The Northern Sanctuary
Eric Gillette – The Great Unknown
Tilt – Hinterland
Cosmograf – The Unreasonable Silence
Fates Warning – Theories Of Flight
Wolverine – Machina Viva
Be’lakor – Vessels
Lacuna Coil – Delirium
Big Big Train – Folklore
Airbag – Disconnected
Katatonia – The Fall Of Hearts
Frost* – Falling Satellites
Glorior Belli – Sundown (The Flock That Welcomes)
Habu – Infinite
Grand Magus ‘Sword Songs’
Messenger – Threnodies
Svoid – Storming Voices Of Inner Devotion
Fallujah – Dreamless
In Mourning – Afterglow
Haken – Affinity
Long Distance Calling – Trips
October Tide – Winged Waltz
Odd Logic – Penny For Your Thoughts
Iron Mountain – Unum
Knifeworld – Bottled Out Of Eden
Novembre – Ursa
Beholder – Reflections
Neverworld – Dreamsnatcher
Universal Mind Project – The Jaguar Priest
Thunderstone – Apocalypse Again
InnerWish – Innerwish
Mob Rules – Tales From Beyond
Ghost Bath – Moonlover
Spiritual Beggars – Sunrise To Sundown
Oceans Of Slumber – Winter
Rikard Zander – I Can Do Without Love
Redemption – The Art Of Loss
Headspace – All That You Fear Is Gone
Chris Quirarte – Mending Broken Bridges
Sunburst – Fragments Of Creation
Inglorious – Inglorious
Omnium Gatherum – Grey Heavens
Structural Disorder – Distance
Votum – Ktonik
Fleshgod Apocalypse – King
Rikard Sjoblom – The Unbendable Sleep
Textures – Phenotype
Serenity – Codex Atlanticus
Borknagar – Winter Thrice
The Mute Gods – Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me
Brainstorm – Scary Creatures
Arcade Messiah – II
Phantasma – The Deviant Hearts
Rendezvous Point – Solar Storm
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld II
Antimatter – The Judas Table
Bauda – Sporelights
Waken Eyes – Exodus
Earthside – A Dream In Static
Caligula’s Horse – Bloom
Teramaze – Her Halo
Amorphis – Under The Red Cloud
Spock’s Beard – The Oblivion Particle
Agent Fresco – Destrier
Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction
Between The Buried And Me – Coma Ecliptic
Cradle Of Filth – Hammer Of The Witches
Disarmonia Mundi – Cold Inferno
District 97 – In Vaults
Progoctopus – Transcendence
Big Big Train – Wassail
NightMare World – In The Fullness Of Time
Helloween – My God-Given Right
Triaxis – Zero Hour
Isurus – Logocharya
Arcturus – Arcturian
Kamelot – Haven
Native Construct – Quiet World
Sigh – Graveward
Pantommind – Searching For Eternity
Subterranean Masquerade – The Great Bazaar
Klone – Here Comes The Sun
The Gentle Storm – The Diary
Melechesh – Enki
Enslaved – In Times
Keep Of Kalessin – Epistemology
Lonely Robot – Please Come Home
The Neal Morse Band – The Grand Experiment
Zero Stroke – As The Colours Seep
AudioPlastik – In The Head Of A Maniac
Revolution Saints – Revolution Saints
Mors Principium Est – Dawn of The 5th Era
Arcade Messiah – Arcade Messiah
Triosphere – The Heart Of The Matter
Neonfly – Strangers In Paradise
Knight Area – Hyperdrive
Haken – Restoration
James LaBrie – Impermanent Resonance
Mercenary – Through Our Darkest Days
A.C.T. – Circus Pandemonium
Xerath – III
Big Big Train – English Electric (Part 1)
Thought Chamber – Psykerion
Marcus Jidell – Pictures From A Time Traveller
H.E.A.T – Tearing Down The Walls
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld

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