The Treachery of Senses
posted on 5/2012 By:
Edgy, but not in a blatantly aggressive way, Oddland takes fairly typical riffs and polyrhythmic fare and constructs enjoyable songs that don’t often achieve greatness, but are surely not lacking in potential. Even though I’d tag them as progressive metal, there’s a huge melodeath influence that I wish they’d tapped into further. Still, this is their first full-length album, and all things considered, The Treachery of Senses is a notable release that showcases the band’s promise as well as the songwriting and instrumental talent the members all clearly possess.
The repetition gets a bit tired towards the end of “Above and Beyond”, which doesn’t really live up to its name, though it’s a perfectly pleasant tune that has many passages reminiscent of Insomnium. Echoing and melancholy guitar lines, tom-heavy drumming, and sorrowful singing are a few of these traits, but unlike their fellow Finns, Oddland’s vocalist does not use growls. Instead, Sakari Ojanen uses his powerfully stirring cleans to create atmosphere, adding rasp when necessary, and creates original texture alongside deep chugging riffs and tasteful guitar acrobatics. Ojanen has one of the best voices I’ve heard in a long while, and there’s not a shred of whininess to be found. It’s full of pure strength and sophistication, and while the singing can often be the weakest link on a metal album, such is absolutely not the case here.
It’s a bit tricky to explain, but everything just seems a bit too loud on this record. Not in a “turn down that blasted rock music!” sort of way, but the production doesn’t allow for many dynamics between the guitars. Riffs seem to be engaged in a volume war for attention instead of coexisting and gracefully interacting, especially on “Flooding Light.” The drums are also a bit of a low point on this album. The parts are executed very well, but there’s a crispness to the cymbals and a perfect pop to the snare that seems fantastic in theory, but not necessarily in practice. I would’ve liked to hear a bit more grit, but I’m willing to admit that this is more of a personal preference, coming from someone who has grown a bit weary of squeaky clean drum production on prog metal albums. Considering the master of mixing, Dan Swanö, was involved in The Treachery of Senses, I’m sure every decision was carefully weighed and deliberately chosen, but maybe a less constricting touch would’ve allowed the waves of sound to travel beyond an excellent, yet stringently bound, aural parcel. Oddland is already an incredibly tight-sounding band, but the pristine mixing makes them sound shrink-wrapped.
“Still The Spirit Stays” starts things off with some of Oddland’s most brutal and subterranean riffs on the record, but also travels into world percussion territories, adding to Oddland’s prog credibility (along with the necessary odd time signatures and shifting dynamics). “Sewers” is also a standout track where the drums kick ass, and the songwriting is some of the best and heaviest on The Treachery of Senses. I’m a sucker for a great-sounding rhythm section, and this song delivers. Joni Palmroth’s bass comes through the mix beautifully, and the drum production doesn’t bother me in the least bit here. There are female guest vocals (at least, I sincerely believe they’re being sung by a woman), and while they are exceptionally high, they flow gracefully instead of flaying the listener with soprano screeching.
Fifty minutes is fairly long for a full length album, especially given that this is Oddland’s first, and the time does not exactly fly by. There’s nothing boring about each track individually (most of which are under five minutes long, the exception being the last song, “Ire”) but as a whole, there are periods of time that drag a bit and challenged my patience. Oddland still has a ways to go before they’ve defined their sound, but I appreciate their melding of progressive, melodic, and doom genres. As far as technical abilities go, there are no weaknesses, either. A great deal of their material has a hypnotic quality, but the entranced feeling fades quickly after the last note of "Ire" dissolves into silence. When all is said and done, The Treachery of Senses is a commendable achievement, and I’m eager to hear which influences the band places in the forefront of their next record. Oddland has enough talent and skill to set themselves apart from the hordes of admirable Finnish groups, and I’m optimistic that they’ll continue to develop and employ their strengths in order to launch themselves to even more exceptional heights.
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