In the age of the X Factor and American Idol, the news that a band has “won a competition” sounds like the press release from hell, to be honest, conjuring images of antiseptic, manufactured, vacuous boy bands or over-singing divas with not an ounce of talent to rub between their manicured hands. Thank goodness, then, for the Finnish nation and their exemplary taste in music.
Oddland, for it is they, recent winners of Finland’s Suomi Metal Star, the Finn’s reposte to “Empire of the Cowell“, beat off 240 other contenders and landed themselves a nice little deal with the lovely folks at Century Media. It’s definitely our gain as their debut album “The Treachery of the Senses” is a delight. It’s proper progressive metal with nods to Opeth and Katatonia but with plenty of their own tricks and flourishes that suggests that, brilliance of debut album aside, this is a band with an eye on the bigger prize and a long term career- and, I, for one, am along for the ride.
‘Flooding Light‘, the album’s “single” is a great case in point. Powerful, inventive and full of melody, it’s well structured without being self regarding and technical without feeling self indulgent or vainglorious. ‘In The Eyes of the Mourning’ has a brilliant staccato riff opening before wandering off into that melancholic, reflective territory that Opeth would regard pretty much as their own. ‘Aisle of Array’ is a blockbuster of a track, jumping between fabulous melody to hardened riff without so much as a breath; it’s the best example on the album of the band’s ability to drift effortlessly between light and shade. I kept expecting Devin Townsend to guest vocalise on ‘Still the Spirit Says’ as it possesses much of his wit and dynamism but not quite in his unique bonkers mad league. ‘Sewers‘ with its bass driven riffing is part menace, part reflection and has more ideas and creative pointers in its six minutes than many bands manage in their entire careers. I heard much here that Tool would be proud of and I can’t think of a much better endorsement.
“The Treachery of the Senses” is a beguiling and often thrilling debut record. There is much to admire in what Oddland have delivered here and, in parts, quite a bit to love as well. Fundamentally, this is dynamic, energised, immersive and engaging music. It thrills the heart, challenges the head and heartens the soul. Now, you can’t say fairer than that, can you?