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Odin's Court: Deathanity

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 lacks cohesion.

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.

Track Listings:
1. Terracide
2. Volatilestial
3. Manifest Destiny
4. Oceanica Toxica
5. Mammonific
6. Animaulic
7. Esoterica
8. Crownet
9. Obesite
10.Ode to Joy

Added: May 15th 2016
Reviewer: Duncan Glenday
Related Link: The Band's Website
Hits: 4950
Language: english

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Odin's Court: Deathanity
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2016-05-15 12:37:53
My Score:

Odin's Court is an American progressive rock/metal band that formed in 2001 and have released seven CDs thus far. Their latest release can't be considered as a 'new' album as they have decided to give their third album Deathanity, originally released in 2008, a complete makeover including redone lead vocals as well as remixing and remastering. The new version is titled Deathanity (R3).

The players are founding member Matt Brookins (guitars, vocals, keyboards, bass, mandolin, percussion, sound effects), Rick Pierpont (guitars), Dimetrius LaFavors (vocals), John Abella (drums, percussion), Savino Palumbo (keyboard and piano solos) and Craig Jackson (bass). Tom Englund (Evergrey) and Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica) provide vocals on a couple tracks. Brookins sang lead vocals on the original release.

From what I have heard of the band, Deathanity is one of my favourites. On the not so subtly titled first track "Terracide", insect samples and keyboards begin the proceedings before sampled vocals introduce the album's recurring theme of how humanity is destroying the Earth. The images projected in one's mind are not happy ones but the band certainly makes us think about the state of our planet. Floyd-like lead guitar and a nice groove settles in before staccato progressive metal riffs take the song in a heavier direction. Acoustic guitar enters near the end giving the tune added variety. On "Volatilestial" catchy guitar riffs carry a healthy portion of melodic crunch. LaFavors has an excellent falsetto and the vocal arrangement is really quite stunning. More soaring lead guitar followed by a sax solo gives the album an unorthodox approach to modern rock music which is totally refreshing. The progressive metal of "Manifest Destiny" with its moody keyboards and gruff/cleaner vocal tones and the catchy "Oceanica Toxica" featuring slow burning electric leads and pretty acoustic guitar are more highlights.

This is really a fine album and definitely a recommended purchase, especially if you didn't buy the album the first go around. Hopefully an album of new material will be just around the corner.

Odin's Court: Deathanity
Posted by Richard Barnes, SoT Staff Writer on 2008-11-03 18:23:26
My Score:

This is the second album by Maryland's Odin's Court and takes on an increasingly common ecological theme in rock music. Twelve tracks on this hour-plus epic take the listener through a wide variety of stylistic changes, demonstrating the band's highly eclectic range of influences from AOR, prog, goth, metal and classical worlds. Their quality as a band is acknowledged by the range of serious players whom they have supported including Symphony X and Spocks Beard.

Opening atmospherically before moving firmly on to prog-metal territory, the confident and cleverly titled first track, "Terracide" is interspersed with background 'overhearing a conversation' style observations about the threat to the world from humanity's growing excesses. This mix of narrative, quieter acoustic parts, ballads, anthems, heavy rock, metal and classical-styled keyboard and guitar orchestration continues throughout the album with similar neologistic titles.

Highlights are the superb bass work, intricate piano interventions and the overall balance between songs and short instrumental breaks and segues. It is a well written and confidently performed work with many guest musicians supporting the core band and deserves to be heard by a wider audience than just the prog-metal world where it undoubtedly has its roots. Matt Brooking carries most of the vocal duties but he is supplemented by harmony vocalists, choral parts and alternate leads in various places which allows his heavier, occasionally a little strained, style to change to reflect the tempo and ethic of each piece.

Toward the end, the album picks up the Ode to Joy theme from Beethoven's ninth symphony, not exactly an unusual piece for rockers to arrange but well done for all that.

Apparently the album artwork (which I haven't seen) illustrates the theme of each track.

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