"An Abstract Existence" would be another no-brainer for the technical metal lovers, starting with the dry abstract shredder "Cellular Deconstruction", which has a few more melodic surprises (mostly in the lead department) later on, without losing the futuristic edge of the jumpy guitars, which comes nicely supported in the middle by stylish orchestral insertions. "Transcending the Earthly Form" is calmer spacey progressive ala Canvas Solaris, despite the several more aggressive riffs heard in the 2nd half. Time for something bigger and more serious: and here comes "An Abstract Existence", a 14-min whirlwind of time and tempo-changes, served with quirky rhythms and funky/jazzy decisions galore, plus a hefty doze of consistent, modern thrashy shred in a solid mid-pace. "Peripheral Aspects" begins with a whirlwind of chaotic leads, but later on things get under control, this composition turning into another hallucinogenic experience, more aggressive (don't read fast), with crushing thrashy and proto-deathy riffs involved, reaching a fine Atheist-like crescendo near the end. "Inputting a Binary Sequence" is brilliant twisted technical thrash with very good bass support, maddening fast sections (with a touch of death metal again), and weird cosmic nuances the latter graced by some of the most complex lead guitar work around. Another colossal piece awaits you at the end: the 20-min "Quantum Symbiotic Inception", the ultimate encyclopaedia of progressive/technical metal, which delivers in all departments, with brutal shredding cuts taking turns with mellow balladic ones, all this having an appealing futuristic edge, with mid-90's Voivod a close soundalike on the more sterile mid-section, and a more officant doomy exit. The guys are pretty much on top of their game at present, and hardly is there any act which can beat them in the all-instrumental sector, and not because that same sector is not the most affluent one on the scene.
Excellent technical all-instrumental thrash metal of the jumpy hectic, unpredictable, type, not too far from the Canadians Electro Quarterstaff.
The debut, "Objects in Space", is already an accomplished affair, comprising of pretty good diverse instrumentals, like the opening "Iconoclast", which is a creepy offering with meandering riffs, in mid to slow pace with a dry, sterile edge. "Ashes Rain from the Sky" is more dynamic, thrashing intensely with puzzling, multi-layered riffs with a fine surreal flavour. Things get just a bit more simplistic on the shorter jumper "Planetary Implosion", which delivers in a busy, hectic manner. One will have no choice, but to "quietly wait" for the passing of "Quietly Waiting", which is a peaceful, dreamy composition of the balldic variety. "Neural Impulse" is an aggressive proto-deathster of the ultra-complex type, the balladic moments springing up again in the middle, stretching till the end, to give an atmospheric abstract touch to the otherwise intense shredding. "Outlier" is a calmer number, progressive thrash in a consistent mid-tempo without too many adventurous digressions. "Ascendance" is in a similar vein, but the riffs become edgier, although their presence is not felt too much due to the overuse of the leads. The closing "Redemption" is a creepy masterpiece of atmospheric technical thrash which seamlessly moves from aggressive lashing sections to slower, abstract ones the both graced by some of the finest technical riffs around; a brilliant display of high-class musicianship, 12-min of sheer mastery the riffs doing the major damage leaving some room for the leads at the end. This is more than a sure-handed beginning for one of the most talented acts on the scene nowadays, showing a surprising maturity at this early stage.
"Schematics" is an outstanding composition mixing very fast, almost death metal-like, sections with very elaborate maze-y structures supported by some of the most technical riffs around, and awesome bass bottom; the song remains memorable due to the repeated motifs which are still a bit hard to follow comprising numerous time changes. Then hits "Fractured Dimensions", a colossal 11.5-min number, quite an achievement in the progressive/technical thrash metal genre summing up almost everything one could look to hear on such a piece. A riff after riff overflows the listener to a pretty overwhelming effect, and it will inevitably require several listens before one starts getting the picture; very good melodic leads are aslo featured to assist the superb riffwork. "Requiem" is a relaxed take on lead-driven dreamy progressive with no ties to thrash, but "Peripheral Aspects" will make your head spin once again with sudden time and tempo changes mixed with abstract spacey moments ala mid-90's Voivod. Although consisting of just 4 tracks, this effort contains music to fill in a whole full-length easily, and hopefully the guys will delight the technical metal fans with a longer offering soon.
ODYSSEY - An Abstract Existence CD Self Released Genre: Instrumental Progressive Metal Rating: 4/5
A little scrap of info I'd like to pass on is that Prog (aka: Progressive Rock/Metal) is now forty years old. When I first heard that last week (via a press release about the progressive metal bible put out by Mean Deviation) it felt like a Roger Dean Art Work coffee table book had been dropped on my head. Realization of age is a major thing. You know it exists but you just take it for granted, much like vocals in music. Take this band for example. ODYSSEY are a three piece act (aka: Jerrick Crites on guitar, Jordan Hilker on bass and drummer Lukas Hilker) out of Spokane, Washington who are self described as Instrumental Progressive Metal. Yes that's right no vocals, all music. Now I'm not ignorant of the whole concept as evident of my vinyl collection of surf/drag music and prog rock bands from the 70s. But as far as metal goes I've never been a huge fan of the style as far as pure instrumental metal goes. Although for some strange reason I'm still hanging on to a PELICAN disc. I do have respect for metal musicians who perform this style since you really need to keep people entertained or at least interested in place of vocals. I had this one playing over the course of a week just to see if these guys could hold my attention and be memorable. The answer is yes on both counts.
ODYSSEY stick to their progressiveness by keeping to the obligatory swift tempo changing compositions as well as theme repetition but are not so technical as to turn you off. That tends to be my problem with other acts I've heard. They clearly are talented musicians and their six cuts on An Abstract Existence are intricate as well as aggressive sounding. Their music has a tendency to draw in the listener as if this was an engrossing novel. At times it rocks with classic melodies, "Transcending the Earthly Form" for example. Other times they grab hold of you by the shirt collar dragging you along a jagged path like on "Cellular Deconstruction". As far as their long form cuts go there's no boring jams or math rock wizardry. On the title cut they actually sound like they're having fun invoking the mid 70's spirit of KING CRIMSON to a degree. I was expecting "Quantum Symbiotic Inception" to be totally early 70's FLOYD worship but I wasn't even close. It's more like a cornucopia of jazz fusion, thrash and doom. Think VOIVOD meets the MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA if that doesn't make your head explode.
Being from the perspective of "progressive-not" the last thing I'd call this is "forward thinking music", a term used by supercilious record store clerks when they blog on their off hours. ODYSSEY simply use tried and true, or is it "troo", structures which high school music teachers for years have been trying to get students to appreciate. As far as metalheads are concerned well that's another story. I must admit what I've termed as Progressive Metal usually consisted of a bunch of Europeans playing keyboard heavy melodic death metal with a chick in a prom dress or ball gown with a plunging neckline as their siren. I've also used the term Gothic progressive but obviously I've been wrong for a long time. I'm not too old to learn something new even though I'm older than Prog Rock. An Abstract Existence is a thoroughly enjoyable release when that feeling tugs at you, usually on Sunday mornings for me, where you just want to hear something relaxing yet edgy. Strictly for connoisseurs mind you or a great gift to that music teacher you once had who would give you crap for wearing a SABBATH shirt to class.
The largely banded around term “progressive metal” has come to characterise music that is metal in origin but utilises complex time signatures, multifaceted song structures and elaborate instrumental showmanship. “An Abstract Existence” has all these elements and more. From Spokane, WA, Odyssey formed in 2007 and, in their own words, the music can be, “…brutal, melodic, technical, dynamic, mellow….” The casual listener should not be put off by the reality that “An Abstract Existence” is a collection of instrumentals, as each number, without being encumbered by vocal, flows seamlessly from segments of jazz, to mellow passages, to death metal and back often within the same track. Track lengths themselves vary and “Quantum Symbiotic Inception”, at some 20 minutes is a perfect example of how, even without lyrics, interest can be held from the intricate bass introduction, through the slow ponderous riffing, round the corner into the frenetic upbeat shredding segments. Themes are revisited throughout each piece to the extent that they are memorable and defined as song structures in their own right.
Song titles such as “Inputting a Binary Sequence” and “Transcending the Earthly Form” may hint at a band taking themselves too seriously. The Odyssey sound is far from pompous, as can be the case, and is the sound of three musicians having fun with the music. This is also evident on some of the photographs of the band that were released as part of the press pack. The production on the album is far from dynamic, which can be a shame, as the level of musical ability and technicality is immense, and a more dynamic production may have raised the sound higher. That such a glorious amalgamation of moods and dynamics emanates from 3 band members only, has however, to some extent be a feat of musical and control room wizardry. The assortment of moods displayed on “An Intricate Existence” is contradictory and conflicting, but it is that very fact that keeps Odysseys latest album appealing and engaging. For the connoisseur of intelligent, multi faceted instrumental music “An Intricate Existence” defines music that is about as progressive as is available at the moment.
-John @ Alternative Matter
01.Cellular Deconstruction 02.Transcending the Earthly Form 03.An Abstract Existence 04.Peripheral Aspects 05.Inputting a Binary Sequence 06.Quantum Symbiotic Inception
01. Cellular Deconstruction- Starts off with a fantastic beat. The beginning of the album throws you onto your toes. The song slows down a bit and takes on a Dream Theater aspect. But, does it superbly. I also get a Scale The Summits feel when the song jumps into the bridge, it creates a Facinating story in the music. The song eventually speeds up and creates just this amazing dynamic presence and jumps back into the blow off start you get from the beginning of this track. Not to mention the drums break off and open up the Solo, Which is phenomenal. The Bass Tears it up and opens just an amazing riff. 02. Transcending The Earthly Form- Starts off slow and brings a nice Riff to the music and the symbols kick in and you feel like your just in the right place. They jump into a solo about 50 seconds in, small but brilliant solo. The song slows down, Bridges, and sneaks back in another amazing solo. It jumps back into a slow beat and picks back up and poors out this amazing Metal sound. It eventually steps back into a Solo and drownds off the song. 03. An Abstract Existence- This song is one of my personal favorites. The guitar gives this amazing slow start off feeling. the bass kicks in the symbols, and then It jumps into this amazing riff. the drums start double bass pounding in, and I feel my heart drop in it. It picks you up through out the beginning of the song 1 minute in and you just feel this metal beat poor through you. However this song is 13:51 seconds long. So if you want to feel this amazing feeling, I suggest you listen to it as well. The solo's just blow your mind in this song, almost sound Spacey. 04. Peripheral Aspects- The solo that drains from the beginning of this song throw you out of a window and right into this song. It immediately jumps into a metal feel. The riffs pick up and the double Bass just seeps into all of it. Eventually the song slows down a bit, and jumps into some very fast solos in the middle of it. The sound that streams from the guitar just shock you, and the bass petals pick back up the song and take it to its metal feel. 05. Inputting A Binary Sequence- Acoustic beginning starts off this song. Way different feel then all the other songs. The bass picks up almost a solo like feel. It really shows the talent the bass player has. Then It picks up a more Progressive feel with the Acoustic still setting in the background. The Drums lead into a heavy Electric Riff, and the song flows more progressive metal from there. The Solo picks up 2 minutes in and shows more skill Jerricks. The Riffs flow back in and the beats just start banging out and back into more solo action. Definitely a good song to listen to if your very fond of guitar! 06. Quantum Symbiotic Inception- The guitar has an interesting little feel in the beginning. different then the rest of the songs. The Drums break out into a nice drum roll. You can feel it pumping you up for an amazing Bridge. The Drums rolls get louder and add in some bass petal. Every bit something new gets added, and the Rhythm guitar and Solo Riffs pop. 3 minutes in the metal jumps out. Amazing Drum work by Lukas, amazing bass by Jordan, and amazing guitar work by Jerrick. This song is 19:31 minutes long.
So if your interested in Instrumental Progressive Metal. Check out Odyssey. These guys have that feel that Dream Theater and Scale The Summit brings.
Posted by: Rhythm Review Published: Oct 29, 2011
The band's name is a good indication...
Here's a band I saw being talked about in various metal blogs (primarily on Number of the Blog). Being curious I listened to their new album, An Abstract Existence, streaming on Bandcamp and I understood the fuss around them. This is very good, even brilliant, instrumental progressive metal, technical, djent-y at times, powerful and epic. Indeed, it takes several listens until one gets a full grasp of the scope of the music here. A feast for the ears.
Posted by Assaf Vestin at http://hangingsounds.blogspot.com/2011/08/recommendation-odyssey-abstract.html
Published: August 20, 2011
Do you like instrumental progressive metal? Of course you do. To be fair, it was kind of stupid of me to ask.
Odyssey‘s new album An Abstract Existence dropped last week, and it’s quite a rocker. I’ve been super busy lately, and when combined with my usual laziness, I’ve put off hearing this record for too long, and I have to say that this, along with Bispora’s new EP, are the current spice to my otherwise monotonous day. If you’ve never heard of this three-piece Washington-based band before, imagine a more heavy and metallic Scale The Summit with generally longer and more expansive songs, and you’re in the ballpark of An Abstract Existence. Listen for yourself above and be wowed.
Posted by: Jimmy Rowe Published: Aug 26, 2011
Inside a practice space hardly bigger than a closet, eloquent bass lines and melodic guitar riffs stairstep up and down, shaking the windows of the tiny upstairs room. Sometimes it is loud enough outside that homeless people stop and cheer.
Cables and guitar cases — held together with duct tape — litter the floor where the three-man instrumental metal band Odyssey practices, lit only by a strand of twinkle lights hanging behind the drum kit.
The band dips in and out of harmony — the constant drums bringing their technical sound back together again.
“We never decided or set out to have an instrumental trio that plays progressive metal,” says bassist Jordan Hilker, 25. “We just started jamming and we saw how much noise three people could make. And we liked that.”
Odyssey is made up of Hilker, his younger brother and drummer Lukas, 23, and guitar phenom Jerrick Crites, 22. They play metal that is all at once brutal, technical, and melancholy. And they do it intentionally without a vocalist. The trio use their instruments to express emotion that feels both calculated and spontaneous.
“Our music forces people to analyze the music in a different way, because we have nothing to hide behind,” Hilker says. “The audience doesn’t have that vocalist distracting them or preaching some message.
With us, it’s just three guys up there, with one of each instrument, doing the best we can.”
Don't be fooled by Odyssey’s metal exterior. The band has picked up crazy musical chops, but they’ve managed to maintain some of the innocence of high school. They still work day jobs at the library, in a produce warehouse, in a photography studio, and cleaning houses. And their long blond hair still gets caught in chewing gum, guitar strings and fans.
All self-taught, they started jamming in 2006. Things just clicked. “We were jamming together for months and we weren’t sure what [Jerrick] was thinking,” says Lukas. “It was kind of awkward.”
“It was like asking a girl on a date: ‘Does he want to be in a band with us?’” Jordan says, almost finishing his brother’s sentence.
Five years later, the band has developed a loyal following of metalheads in Spokane.
Their 2009 debut album, Objects in Space, and their 2010 EP, Schematics, are the accumulation of years of trial, error and experimentation.
Their latest album, An Abstract Existence, is fluid and mature. Without the brutal vocals typically associated with the genre, the guitar riffs and crashing cymbals move to the forefront.
As a result, the music is quite beautiful — albeit heavy — and poetic. The tracks are driven by nimble chord progressions and arranged, almost like a sonata, with three to five distinct movements, ranging from lightning-fast to slow, with articulate time signatures.
“Not having a vocalist just opens a lot of doors for us,” Hilker says. “It frees us up so that we don’t have to stick to the standard formula of songwriting that goes verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge.
The band realizes that playing instrumental metal makes them more of a musician’s band, and that the likelihood of getting signed to a major label and crossing over into mainstream success is slim.
And they’re not ready to pick up any gimmicks. Besides, they can’t afford a crazy light show.
But they don’t seem too concerned.
“On some level, we are conscious of writing for the listener, but we’ve never written a song and wondered, ‘Oh, will people enjoy this one?’” Jordan says. “Our main goal is to write songs that we ourselves would enjoy listening to.
“Odyssey is just a great journey, and for us that’s what this band is. It’s just us discovering our musical potential and sharing that with people, hoping they will listen.”
Written by: Jordy Byrd of The Inlander Published August 24, 2011
I’ve been an avid listener and advocate of the progressive side of metal for a long time now. While you’ll see in the previous review of Dirge that I am cool being served another plate of my favorite stuff, there’s also something to be said for going in a different direction. It’s kind of a thing to realize how long the reach of Isis and Neurosis have been. I say this because what really makes Odyssey stand out is how their take on progressive is really fresh and new for being so old school. Odyssey is playing progressive music, these are long songs that are pretty heavy duty composition-wise. What you’re not hearing though is the sort of prog-0f-2010 thing were a band would really quickly play some jazz scales and go back to what they were doing before that. Odyssey are playing what we used to call Heavy Metal. There is riffage, there is shredding, it all has a really distinct old school feel to it, but at the same time sounds really fresh to my ears, since everyone has been going and doing the Isis thing.
This is also top-quality musicianship, these three really know how to play. There is always a danger with dudes like this that they’ll get bored and wander off into some weird, self-indulgent territory; getting too jammy for their own good. This never happens on An Abstract Existence. This whole thing is super tight. Six songs of super tight, super enjoyable progressive metal. I am encouraging you, the reader, to check this out.
Reviewed by: Jayson Published: Sept 6, 2011
4 – Odyssey are truly a progressive band. Progressive metal is loosely defined as metal that uses characteristics of prog-rock like complex compositional structures, odd time signatures, and intricate instrumental playing. And that describes Odyssey to a T. The term progressive gets tossed around a lot in metal these days, with bands trying to add progressive and technical elements to all manner of subgenres and microgenres, but it doesn’t always work and thus feels tacked on and unnecessary. Odyssey are, to their very core, a progressive band, and there’s something wonderful and pure about that. And with that in mind…
5 – Odyssey feels like a band that plays for the love of music. I mean, you don’t really get big by playing nineteen-minute instrumentals, unless you’re Dream Theater. But, rather than hopping on whatever trend they felt would get them to the top, this talented threesome has chosen to make dynamic, unpredictable, technical music. There are fragments of influences everywhere, from some mellow, Tool-esque moments, to a solo that sounds a bit like Buckethead’s robotic tapping, to some Geddy Lee-style basslines. But with Odyssey, it doesn’t feel forced. It feels natural. And that comes from playing the music that you love from the heart.
So, if for some reason you haven’t already checked out An Abstract Existence, there’s five good reasons why you should. The album is $7 on Bandcamp, and can be streamed via the widget below… and it will be $7 well spent.
My score: 5.5 out of 6
Reviewed by: groverXIII Published: Aug 27, 2011