Odium’s first release lives up to title… “At The Bottom”

May 18, 2009

 

click the picture for a link to Odium's webpage

click the picture for a link to Odium's webpage

 

 

So I’m back from touring the east coast and thought I’d take time out of this glorious day to stay in a dark room and write about some local metal. Fitting don’t you think? As promised in the first post I’m gonna talk about a local Guelph band that has been recently signed to “Year Of The Sun.” 

I had the opportunity to see these guys at the Vinyl and spoke to every member including the lead singer who was ill at the time with a nagging cold. So, I was eager to hear his voice on a recording to get the full effect of the band. Also, the sound at the vinyl always sounds suspect to me unless you get a really big band coming through. So with all those variables it was impossible to get a good grasp on the artistic vision, (if any) and over all quality of the band. Needless to say, I had to come at the album with fresh ears. 

My first listen to this album was in the back seat of a car with three other guys. All three are into the genre and one follows and studies it closely. The reaction was a unanimous, “Ummmm let’s put the i-pod back on shuffle,” after about three songs. Once again though, it’s hard to really know what an artist is trying to do on an album in the the back seat of a car, although my initial reaction was not positive in anyway. I have since listened to it on my mixing speakers twice where the picture and  vision of the album came perfectly clear to me.   

The album starts out with the cliche metal production tool of the creepy intro into fast generic metal. Something we’ve all heard from bands like Metallica, Sepultura, Slayer, Children of Bodom, and the list goes on. The first song is called “Oblivion’s Gates.” Whiuch is just one example on the record of, not too subtle imagery notorious in all bands that strive as hard as they can to be “Metal”. I did, of course, find myself bobbing my head right off the bat to the fast guitars and constant double kick. But even for someone who lives and die’s by the heavy guitar and fast drums, that initial reaction I get to almost any metal was quickly quashed by the verse, chorus, verse, chorus, and half time breakdowns that anyone expects and now rolls their eyes at if they know anything about the genre. I would normally comment on lyrics from song to song and break them down as they pertain to the music specifically. But the lyrics throughout this record are just regurgitated so I will talk about them all in a later paragraph.

The album moves on from the first song to two more of pretty much the same vibe and caliber. Lamb of God verses into pop-metal chorus into a generic breakdown bridge with growl.  The fourth song however is worth commenting on for one very upsetting reason. It is (even more than the rest of the album) almost stolen directly from Lamb Of God. The riff (which is actually pretty bad ass) that comes in at about a minute is way too similar to a couple of Lamb Of God riffs. The one that comes immediately to my head is the break down riff near the beginning of “Break You” on the “Ashes Of The Wake” record and the first song on the “Wrath” record.  And although I’m not going to call Lamb Of God unique and groundbreaking, they are at this point the quintessential band in the genre and therefore come to mind when I see this kind subliminal (hopefully) plagiarism.

The title track “At The Bottom” is also worth mentioning for a couple of reasons. It, like all the others, has no real attempt to be unique in anyway. But it does have a lot of good things going for it. It’s the only song that has the catchy vocal line that has you singing after the record is done. The lyric “You can’t fix the broken and make them whole again. I’ll trust in you to leave me at the bottom.” is a pretty catchy melody and, for better or worse, has the same sort of impact that bands like “Evanescence,”  “Lacuna Coil,” or Killswitch Engage use to sell into the platinum numbers. This in general is the main strength of the band. The long melodic vocals that sit above the heavy guitars in the chorus. The problem with this writing technique is that they abuse it horribly and there are always issues with reproducing that effect live. I’ll talk about that a bit more later. 

The rest of the album is pretty much the same as the first. They have their style set and don’t deviate at all from it…. EVER! Some songs like the vibe leading out of “The Failure” are cool. But it leads strait into riffs that, once again are border line stolen from grind bands like Lamb Of God. The other thing i notice when I was getting further into the album is the placement of hooks. They are always placed within the first forty five seconds of the song. That exact same thing is the killer of every decent metal band. It was the different between the the glorious Metallica records of the early 80’s and the over produced records following “And Justice For All”. Granted, Metallica went from selling 100 000 copies of their record to selling over a million copies of the black album. But they also lost all credibility in the real underground metal scene which the used to dominate. Basically if you are writing the kind of “metal” that relies on the catchy hook at 30 seconds it loses all credibility as “metal.” If this is the route you choose to go than you are no better than the four o’clock after-school, much-music, pop hit of the week. Or to put it bluntly… selling out before you’ve even had a chance to really make a name for yourself.

The record ends much like it began which the strait up speed metal. Taking their queues from Lamb Of God once again. The last intense song, “Need To Exist” is probably the biggest example. This song hurt me physically. Although it had the quick metal changes and good drum fills linking the various sections, the song is the definition of generic. You want to tell them to stop by the end. If it wasn’t for the choruses with the attempt to be catchy I would have no doubt that Lamb Of God’s lawyers would be at their door ready to take legal action. The last song is the only none grind song on the album which creates a cool vibe and is a decent ending, but still very far from the category of unique. 

Individually, It’s clear that all the members, accept maybe the bass player, can hold it down! (nothing against the bass player it’s just hard to make an assessment on something that isn’t really even there) The guitar players can both play the fast riffs with the best of them and the singer clearly has some skills as he shows he can do a lot with his voice from growling to screaming to singing and beyond. In this genre though, you have to have a sick drummer. Odium’s drummer, Joe Mullen, clearly shows he is up to the task both on the album and in the live scenario. His beats, of course, can’t make up for the song-writing but at least helps to keep the listener involved with something going on. But you can only do so much from behind the kit and where Odium really lacks is song-writing. Which leads me to my next point of interest… lyrics!

My mom always told that if I didn’t have anything nice to say… just shut the hell up. So basically I’m going to keep it short. The lyrics are the most random compilation of metal cliches you could possibly imagine. One line has no continuity to the next and it all seems like a bunch of lines that might make the band seem as “Metal” as possible just thrown next to each other. I could rant about this subject for a long time so I’m going to stop. But I’ll leave you with some examples that are sure to make you roll your eyes.

“Let go of my hand – You’ll never stop this – Give me the shape to create life and I’ll make you a gun”

“She’s the only one that could save me – I know your concrete heaven – a prison for my mind”

“If i could breathe again I’d look down at the writing on the wall”

“My mind’s a feeding ground – You were the only star in this place of ashes”

I could go on but you get the idea. A whole lot of trying to deep and coming up massively short. You can be “metal” without resorting to the darkest creepiest lyrics that come to your head. I’d like to show Thomas some Lye By Mistake, Isis, or Between The Buried and Me (if he hasn’t heard them already) To prive that point. I wonder if perhaps some of the the time spent on the obvious over-production of the music on this album could have been spent on the lyrics. But thats just one issue i have with the production. It looks like Greg Dawson was the primary guy in charge of everything on this record as he gets credit as the producer, executive producer, engineer, mixer and mastering engineer. The mix and the engineering in general on this record is pretty solid. There are almost no complaints on my end with the sounds. The guitars are huge, the drums are in your face, and the vocals sounds the way they should in every section. My only issues with the mix is that the guitar tones never change, the drums sound like over-confined plastic, and the bass is barely there. All these problems are inherent to the genre. You put it any strait up grind band’s album you’re going to hear the classic “wooden paddle smacking the top of a large slab of butter” sounding kick drum and a complete lack of bass. I shouldn’t say lack of bass. It’s there and you can tell it’s there but no effort is made to give it its own identity in any way. Which also stems from poor song-writing. So the record sounds good but if Greg Dawson had a heavy hand in the production of the actual songs themselves then i have issue with his work there. The song structure was made exactly like a pop song in every track. Even if Greg changed nothing in the songs, a decent producer should have red flagged the never ending monotonous song-structure and regurgitation that is everywhere on the album. A true high class professional producer would have instantly cut about seven songs off of the record and told the band to spend another few months on writing and pre-production until the have a product that’s worth while. The difference of live vocals to studio version in this band was huge as well. I give props to Greg for making the vocals sound dirty during the heavy parts and big and spacious during the choruses. But the problem is, no one else in the band does the vocal thing. So live it sounds empty in a lot of parts. There are also many sections where there was an obvious usage of elastic time or some other waveform stretching tool as many times you could here a vocal note that has been unnaturally elongated. Which will also lead to massive empty spots ion the live show. Also, someone (probably the executive producer) should have also stopped the horrible art work from being printed. I mean… five guys in cloaks standing in the mist isn’t exactly the most unique metal cover. They might as well have put a skull with a snake crawling through the eye socket in the cover.

Overall as a first effort from a band it’s a pretty solid album. They show some decent potential as a band and if they can grow and show some variation in their song-writing they may have a bright future as the band obviously has some skill. Although this record will never be listened to again by me or likely anyone else who owns a Lamb Of God record, I can’t wait to see where they will take their sound on the next recording. If they get the chance to make one. Look for this record at a used CD store near you in the coming months or save your money and spend it on the new Mono album which I am still obsessing over. Hymn To The Immortal Wind has over 2o plays already in my itunes. 

So that’s what I thought of the debut album from Odium. I hope it wasn’t too harsh as I know all the dudes are great guys and are super nice. I also know they have a copy of our record. So fire right back if you want to guys!

Thats all for now… I may go on to Isis’ new record for the next review as I have not heard it yet and although they are one of the best post-metal bands out there, the word on the street isn’t very good for their newest release. 

Thanks for reading,

Hill

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9 Responses to “Odium’s first release lives up to title… “At The Bottom””

  1. jeremylukehill Says:

    So, um, I thought you loved Evanescence?

  2. indiescene Says:

    Well no one loves them anymore… it’s kind of sad really. Well to some people it is. I find it rather amusing.

  3. your fucking mother Says:

    hey you fucking faggot considering who is reviewing this band i hope the boys in odium dont take this review too serious because your music is fucking garbage you pathetic little bitch!!!

  4. tobenshet Says:

    The guy who wrote this review is a complete ass clown. And really doesn’t know his metal. To rip on Odium’s singer is pathetic. The guys voice is amazing, and not high pitched nonsesnse like the band he is in. ur a joke!!

  5. indiescene Says:

    tobenshet: hi pitched no sense like the band I’m in? We’re an instrumental band! I don’t know metal eh… have you read the reviews I put up? I think I have a pretty fair understanding of the genre and if you think that Odium is anywhere near the top of it, then it is you who does not know his metal. I’d love to continue this discussion with you. Please comment back with why you think this album is a premier album in the genre and with a little bit about what other records and bands you consider to be the best in this massively broad genre. I’m a joke? wow what a very direct and well thought out comment. In future please respond with some in intelligence or I’ll just delete it.

    Your fucking mother: Learn about grammar then leave another comment. It is hard to respond to a comment when the sentences are less coherent than a three year olds’ writing. But I think you are threatening me on behalf of the band if I can understand you right. I have nothing to be afraid of. The guys that I met in the band are all sick dudes! We played a show with them and they all seemed to be regular stand up guys. They would be the first to tell you that you get good reviews and bad. It has nothing to do with any one personally. I’m really sorry you took it that way even though you have nothing to do with the band or the music.

    Thank you both so much for reading, and i encourage both of you to respond to this with a bit more of a civil tone and to future posts!

  6. StormChyld Says:

    Ok, I was looking up Odium lyrics and happened to find your blog on them. Well I’ve seen these guys play countless times now, I own their album and they are amazing, period.

    Tom is an awesome vocalist and he can definitely put on a great show, as can the rest of the guys. They are all super talented.

    You said “But the problem is, no one else in the band does the vocal thing. So live it sounds empty in a lot of parts.”, and that is totally untrue. Actually, Dale the bassist does alot the backup vocals when they play live, and it really doesn’t sound empty at all. And hes quite talented, so you should probably get your facts straight there.

    And also, you say that this album will likely not be listened to by anyone who owns a Lamb Of God CD, well, my friends and I are all very avid listeners of L.O.G and we all find Odium to be something much different and good to listen too. Yes, they may have some riffs that sound alike. But you can’t listen to ANY new CD thats recorded now and not recognize something as something else.

    Odium is quite talented, and this album is amazing. They are going to go far.

  7. indiescene Says:

    StormChylde:

    First of all thank you for not swearing, telling me to kill myself, or anything equally as nasty.

    Like I said… I only saw them once and Tom had a bad cold at the time and I didn’t notice anyone else sing other than some harmony from the bass. That doesn’t mean they are a bad live band. I just thought that show was disappointing because I knew they weren’t at %100.

    I’m sure tom does have a really good voice. He shows on the album very often that he can project and sound powerful… but It’s hard to trust that kind of thing on an album when there is so much post production involved. Which also hurts their live show… there is so much space on the vocals on the album… which is good. But when i saw them the vocals were almost dry. not their fault but it is something they need to be (if not already) aware of. But seeing as you’ve seen them a lot of times I’ll take your word for it that he can do it live too. But that doesn’t change the fact that his vocal style, however good at it as he may be, is one that is abused in a lot of pop-metal metal bands. Just like the guitars that the vocals sit on are the exact same tone, style, and chord progression as every pop-metal band. And of course I’m talking mostly about the choruses rather than the LOG verses and breakdowns.

    speaking of your LOG point. Odium has the pop-metal chorus. LOG never does that. So they have that difference. But almost every quick verse riff or breakdown has LOG written all over it.

    “you can’t listen to ANY new CD thats recorded now and not recognize something as something else.” In a lot of ways i agree. but the best of the best always find a way to solidify a style and a sound of their own and build off of it. And that’s not to say that Odium won’t do that one day. but it just seems to me that they are headed down a dead end path towards grind-core and pop metal.

    I don’t want to blab on for too long. But like I’ve said before. In my reviews I review just the album and try not to take into account how they are live or what kind of musicians they are outside the record or how nice they are. I’m just reviewing the album itself. I’m glad you like it… those dudes work hard so I’m glad you bought the album and wish them all great success. Tom and the other dudes I met are all great dudes who I hope live long and happy lives.

    Thanks for your comment… its the first civil one ive had in a while. hope to hear from you again.

  8. Robby T Says:

    So i was also looking for Odium lyrics when i came across this. Wow dude you really went out of your way to hate on this band. It’s not so much of a review as it is a hate speech. I’ve been playing in metal bands for 20-some years now and i must say, this is one of the most promising canadian metal bands out there. I find their traditional song structure to be quite refreshing, considering how much the genre is being watered down by all of these technical for the sake of technical, or pointless meandering jam bands. Not to mention all of these horse-shit scenester bands.As any “metal purist” would do you name-drop metallica and basically say that anything with singing or catchy hooks is “selling out” but little do you realize that it takes more talent to write a catchy hook than it does to write generic screamed or growled verse or chorus. And these guys do it well. Also you say that the lyrics are just phrases to make them seem as “metal” as possible….have you ever listened to Slayer or any other metal band for that matter? Oh look at me name-dropping now haha. Speaking of- You also name-drop BTBAM, as if his lyrics are something to write home about, ya i guess this is true if you want to sound not as “metal” as possible but as “confusing” as possible or tell everyone how cool it is to be straight-edge. I can tell you are not a guitarist or you wouldn’t be saying all of their quick riffs sound like LOG. Ever since LOG came on to the scene they pretty much took over triplets and any un-educated musician or reviewer in this case is gonna bash any other band for using them. There is one riff that is pretty much a direct rip-off of LOG on this album (track 3 at the end). Also the singer does kind of rip-off Anders from In Flames a bit. But other than that there is no direct connection to other bands. You really need to stop listening to LOG!! It’s clouding your judgement.
    Your general lack of respect towards your fellow musicians sickens me! Remember we are all in this together and bands usually try and help each other out, especially metal bands!! Not to say that you shouldn’t have your opinion be heard but to go to such great lengths to bash this “hard working” band’s hard work is just sad. So next time you want to” take time out of a glorious day” to write about something maybe consider writing lyrics for your instrumental band. You know what they say, ” those who can’t do it write about it”. Oh and by the way what is the name of your instrumental band? I’m curious to see if it’s the most original thing out there. Or to see how much you sound like Isis haha

  9. indiescene Says:

    I don’t hate this band at all. I actually went out of my way to say that I met the guys and they are cool. They are super nice and love what they do. And that is something I can’t argue with. I don’t even hate the music personally. I would never listen to it… but it’s still on my computer for reference. There are a ton of riffs that I like. But just because I (or anyone else) likes them doesn’t mean they are good… the riffs i mean

    You – “I find their traditional song structure to be quite refreshing, considering how much the genre is being watered down by all of these technical for the sake of technical, or pointless meandering jam bands.” – Well if you think that doing the same thing that bands have been doing for the last 20 years is refreshing… than you should probably look into what the word “refreshing means”. Saying something is new and different because it’s the same is a CONTRADICTION. Which means that a band whom you think is one of the best up-and-comers is doing the same old thing for the sake of doing the same old thing. I’m glad I don’t take your advice when choosing someone new to listen to… yikes.

    A band that is technical for the sake of being technical… i can see how you can have a beef with that. That’s why people like Steve Vai and such are complete fags (in the south park meaning of the word) if you ask me. But at the same time… if someone is being technical only for that sake, how is that worse than a band being traditional just for the sake of being traditional? At least the technical band shows they have the ability to play the traditional stuff but it clearly doesn’t challenge them enough.

    Jam bands… I can also see how you can not dig on jam bands. I love improv music but the same 2 chords played endlessly over some “crunchy riffs” for no reason also pisses me off. That being said… how is an improv band playing improv for the sake of just that, any worse than a band that plays the simplest structures possible just for the sake of playing the most simple songs possible.

    You – “little do you realize that it takes more talent to write a catchy hook than it does to write generic screamed or growled verse or chorus.” – This makes you come off as a complete idiot. Writing a catchy chorus or melody line is the easiest thing by far to do in any facet of music writing. I suggest you take a listen to %90 of the music written since… oh… lets say… 1910. There is a familiar trend with these songs… of course I mean a catchy and obvious chorus. So, if %90 of song-writers/producers/singers/record label people etc, have used the exact same ideas in these aforementioned choruses, one would have to be either an idiot, or completely ignorant not to compare a catchy chorus to a Nike sneaker coming off of the assembly line. If there is a scientific formula to writing a catchy hook (which there is… there are countless books written on the subject) than how can a catchy chorus be any different than any other product that has a recipe of various ingredients? And I’m not blaming the singer or whoever writes the melody lines. If anyone is trying to write a melody over progression involving only the 1, 2 minor, 4, 5, and 6 minor chords (and usually not even the 2 minor), of course he’s going to write the same old shit. For examples of popular bands that do their melodic choruses differently without doing the same old thing, (bands that use chords outside of the key allowing for weird melodies and consequently cool overlapping harmonies) listen to bands like King Crimson, Between The Buried And Me, Pink Floyd, Queen, Isis, The Mars Volta, Bjork and others.

    It is moot to compare choruses that have a growl/scream/yell/shriek/etc to choruses that have traditional singing. So I won’t discuss this. If you want to compare apples and carrots than you can start a conversation with someone else because that’s ridiculous. While you’re at is let’s compare The Pussy Cat Dolls to Melt Banana.

    Lyrics… Yeah I’ve listened to slayer and read every line by BTBAM. And thank you for proving my point on both accounts. BTBAM’s lyrics are very non-metal usually… good point. You’re right about that. I’m sorry you are “confused” by them. Subtle political and important social references and messages in lyrics might be a little over your head. But guys that have done that in the past (Dylan, Young, De La Rocha, Lennon, etc who obviously did that in their own unique styles. I don’t want to compare them to each other) Sorry man, but if you don’t understand them… that doesn’t mean the lyrics are bad. It means that they aren’t meant for people who are still stuck in the 80’s listening to Iron Maiden and Megadeath. Also… if a metal band is trying as hard as they can to do something that’s different from what everyone else in the genre is doing, how does that make them worse? And yeah please don’t “write home about” their lyrics. If you don’t understand the glory of BTBAM… DON’T EVEN SPEAK THEIR FUCKING NAME! … I’ve listened to a TON of Slayer. They aren’t my first choice but I still enjoy them and listen to them on occasion still. But you see… “At The Bottom” came out in 2009… “Show No Mercy” came out in 1983! see what I’m Gettin at? When Slayer first started doing it no one was that metal! No one said and did things that were as metal as that! But when “At the bottom” came out you can’t say the same. If you look throughout history at all the bands that have incorporated lyrics like “If i could breathe again I’d look down at the writing on the wall…” coupled with album images involving a cemetery, or 5 tough looking dudes all dressed in black, the number of bands and albums would be far too many to count. So ya comparing them (2009) to Slayer (1983) and all the bands in between, is almost as useless as your comparison of traditional singing to the other countless number of vocal styles used in metal.

    I am a guitar player… I play in a band called theyageletters (www.myspace.com/theyageletters). We’re not huge but we’re 3 albums and 4 years in, have done a few tours. Have full Canadian and Japanese distribution. You – “Uneducated”… I am a graduate of the Music Industry Arts program which is the most highly regarded school in Canada for music production.

    You – “LOG took over triplets”…… WOW …… ONE SINGLE BAND “TOOK OVER” ONE SMALL RHYTHMICAL IDEA THAT IS USED BY ALMOST EVERY SINGLE BAND/ARTIST/COMPOSER THAT HAS EVER EXISTED OR WILL EXIST?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHAT A TRIPLET IS YOU RETARD!!! Is this a real statement or some kind of retarded joke. Dear Christ… If they took over the triplet than what did or Handel, or Bach do in the 18 century? or Schubert or Beethoven in the 19th century, Or Holst or Mahler or Hayden, or… jesus christ I haven’t even gotten to popular song or traditional singing yet. I would list the rest of music in our history that has involved triplets. But it would take a long time because that’s EVERY FUCKING PERSON!!! Oh for the record… You – “you should listen to less Lamb Of God” – I used to listen to them… I FUCKING HATE LAMB OF GOD. If you read this review they are an exact example of things that I hate. Any band that release 5 of the same album is HOOOOORRRRRRIBBBBLE!!!!

    Your whole last paragraph – Once again… I didn’t “bash” anyone. I went out of my way to say that the band has many good points and for a first major release the album was a very strong showing for them. You – “Take time out of a glorious day” – I actually remember writing this review last summer. It was on a really nice incredible day with sun shining and birds chirping… I DON’T GIVE TWO FUCKS WHAT THE FUCK THE WHETHER IS LIKE OUTSIDE. God damn… the amount of things you say that has nothing to do with anything is border line retarded. I use this site as an creative output for me when I need to do something outside of music or film. I try and do something creative everyday. ya… everyday. Even when the sun is out. Sorry for doing what I love at all costs. How about you go up to the guy who writes for Odium and say “Hey why are you writing a riff on a sunny day you should be outside.” HOW ABOUT YOU MIND YOU’RE OWN BUSINESS AND I WILL MANAGE MY DAY THE WAY I SEE FIT! While we’re at it… it’s a nice day outside today and you took time out of it to: #1 look up small band’s lyrics that are clearly ripped off of other bands in this regard (waste of time). #2 Leave a long-winded reply on a a guy’s blog whom you don’t even know (kind of a waste of time but at least it further cemented the fact in my brain that most people are indeed completely, artistically unaware)

    You – “consider writing lyrics for your instrumental band… I-N-S-T-R-U-M-E-N-T-A-L!!! That word means that there are no lyrics. I’m uneducated? fucking retard. We have 3 guitar players because 1 of the guitars is always playing the melody. I am in 2 separate side projects that both have lyrics that I write. I’m not going to say that they are anything special… in fact in my metalish-side project (which has 8 different vocalists all with different styles) most of the lyrics are in reference to how much I hate lyrics in most metal these days or is in Homage to our veterans and our glorious dead, often telling stories of specific battles during the Second Great War.

    This is what I want to you do to (while we’re telling people how to spend their days)… read your comment again and then come up with one point that doesn’t make you sound like someone who has the artistic knowledge of a 13 year old girl who listens to only Jonus Brothers.

    You say you’ve been playing in metal bands for 20 years… maybe it’s time to you stop thinking about metal the way people did in the 80’s/early 90’s.

    Thanks for the comment tho… either way


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