'Origin' is the second album from Finland's Oddland and follow-up to 2012's Century Media-released debut, 'The Treachery of Senses'. This bunch of Finns might be collectively known as Oddland, but they're certainly not an odd band, despite a sporadicity of eccentric moments buried within some of the instrumentations on 'Origin'. Nope, odd they are not; but a more straightforward, accessible prog/groove metal band they most certainly are, with a few oddities thrown in.
The album opener, 'Esotericism', hits hard with some resonant, down-tuned, bass-heavy groove riffs, overlaid with tremolo-picked leads. The vocals are likeable enough, if stylistically a little mismatched with the music on this first song. In fact, the track is more like genericism than esotericism. A bland-ish guitar solo towards the end of the song doesn't particularly elevate it beyond its plodding core. However, this all changes for track number two, 'Thanatos', which is stylistically wider in its compositional space and emotional range therein. This is far more interesting, and includes some delightfully dissonant melodies.
And, as the album progresses, it transcends its bland-ish opening with a greater breadth of both emotions and compositional intrigue, as first heard in 'Thanatos'. 'Unknown' and, in particular, 'Faraway', are standout tracks. There's more emotional depth in the vocals on these two, particularly Sakari Ojanen's delivery on 'Faraway' in his lower register... although said track does tread on Devin Townsend-esque territory just after the three and a half minute mark. Closing song 'Will' is a highlight too, which kind of ends how the album started, with some down-tuned groove-laced riffage, although, this time, Oddland build on these foundations much better and the song develops into something far more worthy of attention. So, it could be said that as much as the band consider themselves a progressive act, the album also progresses on its own terms.
Recorded at Fantom Studios and then subsequently mixed and mastered by Daniel Bergstrand, the album has a great, resonant sound, which is vital for effectively conveying its down-tuned core. And the dark, minimalist, quasi-surreal artwork created for every song by Egyptian artist Mohammed Essam, which appears on a separate page of the accompanying booklet, opposite each track's lyrics, is a nice touch. However, compositions-wise, while 'Origin' is a more than respectable effort, it falls short of the genuine prog mastery and innovatory might of some of the scene's rising stars. Oddland have a way to go yet before they can claim any kind of prog metal hegemony.
Review by Mark Holmes
9th Sept 2016
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...while 'Origin' is a more than respectable effort, it falls short of the genuine prog mastery and innovatory might of some of the scene's rising stars."