REVIEW: THE ODIOUS – “Vesica Piscis”
2012 was a year of headlines and superstition, riddled with space exploration, gun violence, and our favourite Marvel superheroes. And while we waited with bated breath for the end of the world that never came, the beginning of a new chapter in experimental metal was born.
The first time I heard The Odious’ debut full-length album, ‘Joint Ventures’, I was instantly blown away by their ability to take the listener on a twisting roller coaster of intense technical proficiency and creative prowess. To this day, “Combaticus” remains one of my most frequently played songs. The combination of The Odious’ precise speed, laid back funk, and captivating varied vocals leaves you in awe while inducing every limb to twitch and flail to a different facet. Keeping with guitarist, vocalist, bassist, and original member Spencer Linn’s stellar songwriting template, ‘Vesica Piscis’ invokes all of the above, but with a more balanced and refined overall sound, both artistically and sonically. Along with Linn, vocalist Patrick Jobe remains to bring another alluring performance to the ear, together with providing the recognizable progressive sound that is The Odious. The album was recorded in the band’s own studio and was produced by their former drummer, Jeremy Klein, which is the cherry on top of this long-awaited and very satisfying record.
To pick up where the previous album left off, “Scape”’s out of tune piano turning into loops of strained voices is a perfect intro for the controlled chaos to come. The intensity with which “Repugnant” hits captures one’s attention and the track never let us go. Those classic Odious technical funk aspects shine through even more solidly than ever – a very danceable yet heavy riff in 6 that later morphs into a deeper 7/4, atop what briefly sounds like something out of Drumline. This is also a great showcase for Spencer Linn’s astounding guitar skills.
“Arbiter of Taste” has a strong early Alice In Chains vibe, while “Glowjaw” is a more diverse track, creating a sombre 3/4 atmosphere at first, then flowing into a ‘Joint Ventures’-like noodle-y guitar lick. The guest Moog appearance by Aaron Stern doesn’t hurt either. This respite gives way to three weighted tracks, “Hastor The Shepard Gaunt”, title track “Vesica Piscis”, and “Heavy Rhetoric”. However, one of my favorite tracks is “物の哀れ (Mono No Aware)”, which is likely the catchiest element of this album, and features Michael Blye on bass. “Misuse and Malignment” features a balanced layering of harsh vocals, some hints of Castlevania, and even a bluesy jazz break. “Fix” winds the energy down with an almost Porcupine Tree feel, the mysterious emotion coming to an abrupt stop like a television set being switched off, which at first caused me to panic angrily, then to laugh, and finally, to smile fondly at the acoustic, raw beauty that is the last minute and a half of ‘Vesica Piscis’. The perfect ending to what the band has labeled “a trilogy of related themes throughout the course of [their] discography”.
It may have taken The Odious seven years to follow up ‘Joint Ventures’ and the ‘That Night A Forest Grew’ EP, but with the dedication and creativity of the remaining core members (and with the rhythmic help of Garrett and Austin Haag from Bystander), this is a band that just keeps getting better. My single complaint would be the absence of another Gangs of New York sample, so needless to say, ‘Vesica Piscis’ is well worth the wait.