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Odyssey - "An Abstract Existence" (CD)

Odyssey - "An Abstract Existence" CD cover image

"An Abstract Existence" track listing:

1. Cellular Deconstruction (6:42)
2. Transcending the Earthly Form (6:51)
3. An Abstract Existence (13:51)
4. Peripheral Aspects (7:06)
5. Inputting a Binary Sequence (7:26)
6. Quantum Symbiotic Inception (19:31)

Reviewed by on September 30, 2011

"This release is the sort of thing that should get the tech and prog fanatics properly salivating, which is all the more impressive considering it comes from a band very firmly in the underground."

Taking things up a notch even from the already-impressive “Schematics” EP, Spokane’s purposefully instrumental act Odyssey has struck gold on sophomore full-length “An Abstract Existence.” This release is the sort of thing that should get the tech and prog fanatics properly salivating, which is all the more impressive considering it comes from a band very firmly in the underground.

Anyone seeing the word “instrumental” and thinking that means “boring” has got it all wrong, as Odyssey crafts the songs so they are consistently attention grabbing without any screams or singing. Transitions are the name of the game, with each song shifting and flowing in and out of styles in a way that will please the prog crowd, but without losing sight of the heaviness. There are definitely jazzy segments and mellow areas, but the whole package is unmistakably more death metal influenced than progressive rock influenced. In ways the album has a bit of a To-Mera feel, except that Odyssey tends to stick in each new style change a bit longer than that prog metal act.

Technicality is another major feature of the album, and although this isn’t quite Obscura or The Faceless we’re talking about, it’s still very impressive and scratches the tech death itch admirably. You’d think with songs ranging from seven to 19 (!!) minutes that the formula wouldn’t hold up, but there’s no lag time on the whole album. Impressively, nothing ever gets boring or goes in the other direction and lands in the dreaded territory of “annoying show off wankery.”

Although very different bands, fans of Opeth will also likely enjoy what “An Abstract Existence” has to offer. The way Opeth structures its guitar parts and has smooth transitions from mellow to heavy can be heard in plenty of tracks on the album. As a band that mixes the technical with the progressive and only has three members, the bass is also always running front and center along with the guitar and makes some interesting melodies not heard in most metal albums.

Constantly evolving from segment to segment and song to song, Odyssey’s latest release shifts across anything and everything that makes metal worth hearing: dark and brooding atmospheres, brutal heaviness, melancholy arrangements, guitar shredding, and even some upbeat stuff. Besides a slightly muffled and flat production, there isn’t much wrong with “An Abstract Existence,” but there is a whole lot done right.

Highs: Mixes the progressive with the technical and never gets boring even without vocals.

Lows: The production is a bit muffled, and the "Periphal Aspects" song may sound familiar for technical metal fans.

Bottom line: An impressive blend of technical and progressive elements.

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)