The Odious
Vesica Piscis

While there’s no shortage of quality bands in the overcrowded modern metal scene, it is increasingly difficult for bands to create something truly unique and original to stand out from the pack. Not to suggest there’s a lack of innovation in modern metal, but it remains refreshing when a band comes along and smacks you in the jaw with stacks of personality and overflowing creativity. Portland’s The Odious have been lurking around the traps for some time, though only recently landed on my radar with their long awaited second LP, Vesica Piscis. However, further investigation revealed The Odious dropped a couple of very well received releases courtesy of debut EP That Night a Forest Grew in 2011 and 2012’s follow-up full-length, Joint Ventures. Since then the band has been quiet on the recording front, finally awaking from their slumber to deliver what for many is a highly anticipated return.

Slapping a definitive label on The Odious and their shape-shifting sound is no easy task. And this remains so on Vesica Piscis. Think a colourful blend of progressive death, infused with spazzed-out, jazzy math rock coupled with the druggy melancholy and gorgeous darkened melodies that recall vintage Alice In Chains. This may give some indication of what you’re getting into, but even still, The Odious and their restless collage of robust, complex metal still holds many surprises. Vesica Piscis is one hell of a journey across 50 minutes of exhilarating and innovative modern metal.

The progressive label has a tendency to ward off certain metal listeners, yet much like Sermon’s excellent Birth of the Marvellous album from earlier in the year, The Odious expand the boundaries while staying true to their aggressive metal roots to craft songs with the appeal to reel in listeners from the broader metal spectrum. Speaking of which, the songs comprising Vesica Piscis are exceptionally well crafted, despite their often unconventional detours and structures. The writing is slick, extremely addictive and memorable, while remaining fluid in its cohesiveness. Soaring hooks sit amidst intricate musicianship and busy compositions loaded with muscular riffs, boundless energy, creatively complex drum patterns, and a multi-faceted vocal approach that is enforced with potent effectiveness.

Opening scene setter “Scape” creates a jumbled, unsettling atmosphere but doesn’t offer anything especially compelling. Thankfully, as soon as first proper track “Repugnant” kicks into the gear, the album comes to life with caffeinated immediacy. Aggressive prog-death collides with quirky passages of restraint, hardcore-tinged attitude, and bulldozing grooves. Tied together with a typically diverse vocal performance, including memorable cleanly sung moments and a hearty range of extreme styles, it’s a commanding beginning to the album. Buffeted with vintage synths, gorgeous melodies, and a laidback ‘90s grunge feel, “Glowjaw” sounds both fresh and familiar, breaking the album’s more aggressive, heavier streak with impressive results. Boasting a hugely energetic and thrashy streak, “Hastor the Shepard Gaunt,” bristles with creativity and bruising heaviness, upping the ante in swaggering style. Meanwhile, later album cut “Misuse and Malignment” offers a concise slab of hooky, jazz-infected metal; aggressive, high energy, and deliciously groovy and unpredictable.

Production-wise, Vesica Piscis is enamoured with a bright, modern punch, yet doesn’t sound sterile or clinical in the least, offering a well balanced mix of clarity, depth and heft. Several tracks raise the stakes, but overall, it’s a remarkably strong and consistent listen across the board. Despite its hefty length and the purposefully, yet frustratingly chopped up climax to the Alice In Chains-esque closing balled “Fix,” The Odious keep things tight and interesting throughout the album’s duration. Following a lengthy break between drinks, The Odious smashed it out of the park with Vesica Piscis and crafted a unique, adventurous and compelling extreme metal album. This is the sort of metal album that will likely divide audiences, but for the adventurous listener, the rewards are very fruitful indeed.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Luke Saunders
August 16th, 2019

Comments

  1. Commented by: E. Thomas

    This is fucking great.


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