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Odyssey - "The Turning Tide" (CD/EP)

Odyssey - "The Turning Tide" CD/EP cover image

"The Turning Tide" track listing:

1. The Devil's in the Details (6:23)
2. The Turning Tide (3:50)
3. The Machine Stops (5:52)
4. Quietly Waiting (4:21)

Reviewed by on December 15, 2014

"“The Turning Tide” is a nice succinct, brief listen that flows by well and finishes before it can outstay its welcome, offering a solid and progressive mix of styles."

Although still very much an underground institution, the instru-metal trio Odyssey finally has a release with label support (a development that was frankly long overdue): “The Turning Tide,” a four-track EP that's appropriately named. Like previous EP “The Conscious Device,” the band is continuing towards a smoother, more low key sound that's less brutal while still being overall in the metal camp. In fact “The Turning Tide” is even further along that journey than before, with a noticeable shift in tone and direction from previous efforts.

“The Devil's In The Details” starts with that blend of almost-jazz and smoky, textured guitar work that brings to mind what Opeth might sound like today had things gone just a bit differently. That particular style is sprinkled throughout the release, returning to that iconic sound with repeating guitar parts that mixes a prog vibe with hints of death metal.

As a band that chooses to forgo the vocal element, there is a huge interplay between the instruments, and of course the bass has a larger presence than in the typical metal outfit. There's plenty of technical and flashy material, but not to a distracting or overbearing degree. Leaning clearly towards the prog and tech sides, the EP still has a strong melodic flair, and ending song “Quietly Waiting” is much more atmospheric and less overtly heavy than the preceding songs.

More than with past releases, Odyssey displays a high level of focus on “The Turning Tide.” While there are tempo shifts (the sudden speed up on “The Machine Stops” for instance) and stylistic changes in the songs (this is instrumental prog metal after all), the songs don't meander all over the place or have material at the beginning that's not even in the same genre as at the ending.

The decision to go all instrumental is one that may divide a possible fan base, and there are parts of the EP that would work well with either throaty growls or some smooth clean singing. But on the other side of that, no matter what kind of vocals a metal band has, somebody's not going to like them. Some dig the black metal screech and others hate it. Same goes for pig squeals, cookie monster growls, thrashy yells and half-screams - hell, some metal heads don't even like clean vocals at all.

Odyssey removes that from the equation: the music speaks for itself, and there's no vocalist to divide the audience. “The Turning Tide” is a nice succinct, brief listen (there's the one six minute track, but none of the 10 or 13 minute songs from earlier albums) that flows by well and finishes before it can outstay its welcome, offering a solid and progressive mix of styles.

Highs: Odyssey continues to evolve its instrumental sound, blending a variety of progressive and technical styles together.

Lows: The EP is noticeably less on the heavy side than previous offerings, and occasionally the vocal element is missed.

Bottom line: Finally sporting label backing, the instrumental trio returns for another progtastic metal outing.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)