Odin's Court must be one of the very few progressive acts out of southern
Maryland, and the band's energy and creativity will surely be a culture shock to
that sleepy part of the country. Their music is progressive rock, with one toe
in the metal camp and another in hard rock. Deathanity is intelligent
music with constantly developing themes and restless structures, ranging from
ballad-soft sections through to power-chord-driven metal and back again, often
in the same song. It's nicely layered and reveals occasional hints of the
classical, jazz and classic rock genres, with - as the band's own promotional
material indicates - an ambience and dynamics borrowed from Dark-Side-era Pink
Floyd. Despite the band's short discography, there's a maturity and a self
confidence here that will surprise you.
It is a strongly themed album, delivering a message about man's destruction
of the earth, and there are spoken voice-overs that advance the theme a la
Pain Of Salvation's more recent albums. This is usually a bad idea because after
several replays those spoken segments become annoying. Fortunately, they're held
well back in the mix on Deathanity so that problem does not arise.
The song titles are also designed to advance the theme - but like the album's
title, they're quirky and the often made-up names provide more confusion than
clarity. Titles like "Terracide" (obviously Latin for 'earth-murder'), Oceanica
toxica (poisoned oceans), Vastificant and Volatilestial. "Manifest Destiny" has
become a standard historical term describing the expansion of the United States
across the North American continent, but in this context that song seems to
refer to man's expansion across the globe, and the consequent environmental
destruction. The band's message would be more effectively conveyed if their web
site expanded on the music's themes.
"Oceanica toxica" is a pleasing, melodic piece, awash with keys, supported by
a strong riff and punctuated by elegant piano. Tom Englund of Evergrey
contributes vocals to track 5, "Mammonific". Englund's typically strained
delivery has its appeal, but he seems to be stretching to fit the song. Another
guest artist is Tony Kakko of Sonata Arctica, who features on "Crownet". His
delivery is strong, but overwhelmed by the instrumentation and the piece somehow
Track 10 (of 12) is "Ode To Joy", an excellent metallic rendition of
Beethoven's 9th symphony (the Chorale), with the very famous ode to joy
theme that has been adopted as the European Union's anthem. Imagine a
less-ambitious Uli Jon Roth or Yngvie Malmsteen piece, though happily not as
over-the-top as those guitarists' efforts. It's short at just under 4 minutes,
and particularly enjoyable.
There's wonderful variety from section to section, the instrumentation and
the songwriting are clearly the album's strengths, and the bass guitar is
dominant on almost all sections of the record, and really comes to the fore on "Cosmosera".
The vocals might have selective appeal. For example, "Animaulic" has strong,
angry tones in the chorus which are very effective, whereas the multi-part
choral sections are delivered in an odd timbre, with pitch control problems.
We understand that Odin's Court puts on an excellent stage show - which
probably explains their opening for countless notable prog and metal acts -
including Symphony X, Spock's Beard, King's X, Kamelot, Enchant, Circa, Sonata
Arctica, Jon Oliva, Zero Hour, Devin Townsend, Enchant and Helloween.
On balance it's a rewarding listen and is recommended.
3. Manifest Destiny
4. Oceanica Toxica
10.Ode to Joy