"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Oddzar - "Ready The Chariot" (CD)

Oddzar - "Ready The Chariot" CD cover image

"Ready The Chariot" track listing:

1. Sake's End
2. Calling Out
3. Dogs of Demikhov
4. Venus
5. Ready The Chariot!
6. Splendor
7. Reign
8. Roma
9. Demur

Reviewed by on August 30, 2009

"What makes 'Ready The Chariot' work so well is the band's dedication to filling up their poppy grooves with actual ideas. "

A lot of times, we "serious" metal types have a problem with pop. We don't like it when our music becomes too easy for the "outsiders" to listen to. Anyone with a 56K connection back in the day will remember how the thrashers lambasted the glam acts in the early days of the internet. Then, when Metallica softened its sound ever-so-slightly, we all started talking about them "selling out," as if they'd started recording easy listening tunes. Then, it was the anti-nu-metal pogrom.

The problem with that disdain for pop is that sometimes we run the risk of missing out on some great songwriting and playing, just because it isn't "metal" enough. That's definitely the case with Oddzar's latest album, "Ready The Chariot," which comes with a heavy coat of pop gloss.

Oddzar sounds a bit like a slightly harder-edged Foo Fighters, which makes it no wonder that the band has had songs featured on MTV shows like "The Real World" and "The Gauntlet." Depending on your viewing and listening tastes, that may or may not be much of an endorsement.

What makes "Ready The Chariot" work so well is the band's dedication to filling up their poppy grooves with actual ideas. This album, which is based around the concept of the rise and fall of a great empire, is both catchy and thought-provoking — a rare feat indeed.

Things get off to a good start with "Sake's End," with guitarist Greg Loman showing he can alternate between high leads and a harsher grinding riff in the space of seconds. Russ Eckell sings of "trying to survive," with Loman and bassist Trevor Oxley's perfect harmony vocals backing him up. It's more Lennon-McCartney than Cantrell-Staley in execution, but it works well.

Every band member gets his chance to shine here, with Oxley and drummer Blake Silvea providing the slow, ominous intro to "Calling Out," which decries what happens when we "surrender our will" to a charismatic leader who could be anyone from Julius Caesar to the Antichrist.

The title track, "Ready The Chariot!" alternates between hard and soft sounds in intriguing ways, with the heavier opening and first verse giving way to a gentler section following the first chorus.

The album's best track though is "Dogs Of Demikhov," which features martial snare drums and riffing over lyrics of a man with "no connection to the place I was born." It's a fantastic song that has an appealing world-weariness to it, though it never becomes maudlin, even in the quieter sections. And it has a kick-ass guitar solo.

Unfortunately, the album's worst track is "Demur," the one that ends it. It's not a terrible track, but the quiet guitars and vocals take quite a long time to get anywhere interesting, and the addition of synth sounds doesn't add much at all.

Don't let that pop sheen fool you. Oddzar's "Ready The Chariot" is an album filled with clever ideas and catchy hooks. You may not be banging your head all the time, but you will be tapping your toes.

Highs: The martial "Dogs Of Demikhov," "Sake's End," and "Calling Out" are the three top tracks.

Lows: "Demur" takes a long time to get anywhere interesting.

Bottom line: A catchy album that fills its poppy sounds with some clever lyrics and thought provoking concepts.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
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)