Odin's Court is a young progressive metal band from Maryland, USA. They have been around for a couple of years now, releasing their self-produced debut album Driven by Fate in 2003 and playing several gigs with amazing bands including Devin Townsend, Symphony X, Kamelot, and Helloween. The band's debut album was an ambitious concept piece, packed with great riffs, atmospheric keyboards, powerful rhythms, and soaring vocals. Led by vocalist, guitarist, and main songwriter Matt Brookins, the band has gone through several lineup changes before releasing their new work, Redriven by Fate.
Redriven by Fate is not exactly a new studio album, as it contains newly arranged and recorded tracks from the band's debut release, some acoustic tracks, and solo numbers by the members. Starting with the Driven by Fate tracks, the band immediately shows noticeable growth on the first two tracks. After the semi-acoustic, semi-keyboard driven intro "Discretion Rising", the band delves into "D2C", a fantastic piece littered with great riffs by both Matt Brookins and Rick Pierpont, a solid bass bottom, pounding drums, and great synth work. On the last two minutes of the piece, the band makes a foray into ambient sections, sort of like the songs on Degree Absolute's debut album.
Though I'm still of the opinion that Matt Brookins vocals are an acquired taste, Brookins' singing sounds a lot more convincing and effective than the debut album. "Shadow Dust" showcases several aspects of his vocal abilities, going from high registers to even slightly howling-like screams. Complemented by deep acoustic throbs and bluesy lead solos, not to mention Iron Maiden type of gallop riffage, this is one of the heaviest Odin's Court songs. "Surreal Contemplations" is a beautiful instrumental, highlighted by lofty synths that float above expressive lead guitars and some whispered lyrics. The new arrangement of the song is truly engaging, perhaps because the guitar harmony is so well written and produced. "Utopian Rust" concludes the Redriven by Fate numbers, with punishing rhythm guitars, Brookins' most melodic singing, and a killer lead solo by Rick Pierpont, and atmospheric keyboards.
The two H2 tracks, "Homecoming" and "His Dark Materials", sound quite different, mostly because of Brookins' strictly 80's style heavy metal vocals on the former (with big harmonies) and the Ayreon-infused folky melody on the latter. Think Ayreon's The Human Equation where Lucassen runs a slightly Celtic-sounding agile folk melody through some of the pieces. "His Dark Materials" isn't too different, accented with textural guitar work, and solo performances by each member. Brookins lets things start with a gripping tapping lick and is followed by Craig Jackson on bass whose rumbling bass shines like a diamond. From here on, the music segues into a killer drum solo by John Abella and finally an awesome synth melody by Savino Palumbo. This is arguably the finest and most perfectly composed Odin's Court song to date, and I hope to see them exploring this type of writing more vividly on their next album.
"Paradise Lost: Chapter 1" and "Paradise Lost: Chapter 3" are both enriched with varied soundscapes, ranging from fluid guitar arpeggios to symphonic textures and plenty of solos. However, it is the acoustic versions of songs like "Utopian Rust", complete with dynamic cello and viola sounds; or the melancholic "The Calling" that prove Odin's Court is a band comprised of members that understand composition and melody. "Paradise Lost: Chapter 1" is their most complex work, blending wonderful strings, counterpoint acoustics, and a beautiful violin solo by Teresina Palumbo. You also need to give "Savino" a good listen, for excellent solo piano.
The production is okay for an independent release, but I can't help thinking how these songs would sound if they were produced and mixed by a professional. As with the debut, there were times when I hoped the guitar tone was a bit fuller and had more punch to it, and there would be more clarity. But these are minor setbacks, and here's hoping to a great third album, which they'll start recording later this year. Odin's Court is a band with great potential, but I feel the best from them is yet to come.
- Discretion Rising
- Shadow Dust
- Surreal Contemplations
- Utopian Rust
- His Dark Materials
- Paradise Lost: Chapter 1
- Paradise Lost: Chapter 3
- Utopian Rust (acoustic)
- The Calling (acoustic)
- Dystopian Bliss (acoustic)
- Thirteen (acoustic)
- Paradise Lost: Chapter 1 (acoustic)
- Paradise Lost: Chapter 4 (acoustic)
- To Live A Dream