Although Odd Logic has remained in relative obscurity since its formation in 2003, Over the Underworld is proof that they're one of the most creative acts in the prog metal genre. It's certainly not every day you hear a modern "vanilla prog metal" album with this much atmosphere, heaviness, and emotion - even more infrequently do you run across an album in this genre that is meant to be synced to a movie. Over the Underworld was written in different "movements" meant to be synced with different parts of the 2003 film, Underworld. Although I may be missing out on the intended experience of this album (I've never seen Underworld - let alone sync it to this album), the music alone is enough to leave me awestruck. Over the Underworld has a few flaws, but none crippling enough to rob the album of its accolades. This should prove to be one of 2011's highlights in the prog metal world - I wouldn't miss out on this exceptional effort from Sean Thompson.
The music on Over the Underworld is progressive metal with obvious influences from the likes of Dream Theater, Symphony X, and Pain of Salvation. I also hear nods in the direction of the much-heavier modern djent-metal movement. The guitar and bass tones are usually downtuned and extremely distorted - there's a heavy, almost industrial, atmosphere throughout the album that makes the lighter sections contrast even greater than they normally would. Sean Thompson has demonstrated here that it is not only possible to create "vanilla prog metal" that's still strikingly original, but it's also possible to succeed tremendously at doing so.
Over the Underworld took a quite a few spins before I "got it" - not at all surprising when one considers the epic scope of the album. Every song here (aside from the hidden track at the end) falls into the 9 to 21 minute range, and encompasses multiple sections, mood changes, and a concept story filled with repeated themes. That alone should make my first acquaintance with the album a bit difficult, but the production also took a little while to get used to. That shouldn't at all be interpreted as a bad thing, though - the more I hear Over the Underworld, the more I recognize the genius of the album's production. The guitars and bass both dominate the mix here, with the drums and atmospheric keyboards often taking a backseat in the sound. The vocals are also fairly low in the mix, but it adds excellent mood to the album. I would just recommend not dismissing the quirky production after just one or two spins - it definitely reveals itself after repeated listens.
As I've mentioned earlier, Over the Underworld was meant to be synced to the 2003 film Underworld. For most listeners I can imagine this being a bit of a "double-edged sword", so to speak. On one hand, this gives the album a unique twist that sets it apart from the seas of cookie-cutter prog metal bands, but on the other hand this method of songwriting may create a few problems. Although a largely insignificant complaint, I do feel that a few sections on the album are a bit "underdeveloped" because of the method of composing used here. If the album weren't synced to a movie, Sean Thompson may have had more freedom to expand upon his ideas. Some parts feel as if they were cut off early just to match up with the movie - it happens infrequently, but it's a minor complaint regardless. This may just be an issue that resolves itself after even more spins, however. Considering how much this album grew on me after the first 10 listens or so, I have a feeling that the next 10 spins may prove that this isn't a problem at all.
Over the Underworld is a groundbreaking prog metal album in the truest sense. It's strikingly original, genius in its delivery, and compositionally intriguing - that pretty much defines a "modern classic" for me. If you give Over the Underworld the undivided detention it demands, this should prove to be an incredible experience for all prog metal fans. 4.5 stars are well-deserved here. Let's hope this album puts Odd Logic on the map - I know that this will be one of my highlights this year for sure!
1. How Are Things Progressing (11:45)
2. Not Anymore (10:12)
3. Stickem (9:15)
4. Move Move Move (16:04)
5. Soon I Will Become the Hunted (20:34)
6. Last Track (1:45)