Talk about a case of bad timing. In a year without a new release from Opeth, perhaps Farmakon’s Robin would serve as a mildly entertaining diversion for fans longing for that sound. If I’d heard it when it was originally released by Four Seasons last year, it might have gone over better. Re-released by Candlelight only a few short weeks before Opeth’s much-anticipated Watershed, however, it’s going to be hard to avoid comparisons. That’s bad for Farmakon, because Robin just can’t stack up.

Certainly, Robin has its good points. After the mostly death opener “Time-Tables,” which sounds somewhat sloppy to these ears, the record begins to settle into its groove as the album progresses. That groove, unfortunately, is an undisguised and unabashed bit of Opeth worship. As such, it’s not a bad effort. Farmakon seem to have studied Opeth well and have a good grasp of the style and the music is competently played. Of course, that still leaves the fact that it sounds almost exactly like Opeth — only not quite as good. They’d make one heck of a tribute band. That’s a shame, too, because there’s obviously talent here, and there’s so much they could do if they could find their own direction. Instead, it sounds like they’ve drawn up a blueprint and followed it to the letter: death bits, soft interludes, jazzy runs, intermingled death growls and melodic vocals. Farmakon does, perhaps, put a bit more emphasis on the deathly aspects than Opeth has in recent years, but they lack the refinement and deft blending touch of the better known band.

Farmakon also isn’t helped by the muddy, muffled mix, which often makes the record sound a bit amateurish, particularly on the death segments.

To reiterate, Robin isn’t a terrible record, but with Watershed ringing in my ears, it never really had a chance. Opeth fans looking for a quick hit to get them through the next few weeks until the new record arrives may find it an interesting diversion. Or you may want to stash it away to revisit a few months down the road. Ultimately, though, at this point in time listening to Robin only makes me want to reach for Watershed again.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Fred Phillips
May 22nd, 2008


  1. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    Do they still have the saxaphone/trumpet injections? I thought A warm Glimpse had a lot of promise

  2. Commented by: Fred Phillips

    They’ve still got the brass, but don’t use it enough IMO. There’s definitely promise here. They just need to move away from the Opeth worship. I probably would have liked it better if I wasn’t also listening to Watershed at the same time. It’s pretty blatant, particularly later in the record, and it’s just not nearly as good as Opeth.

  3. Commented by: Cynicgods

    And here I was, thinking these guys were about to surprise me with Skepticism worship from their name.

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