Odious - Skin Age
Reviewer: Shehab El Din Ismail - 2015-02-12
Highlights: Dungeon Keys, Hot Blood Fumes, and All the Evidence
ODIOUS has made a strong return. Their first full length was released back in 2007 and it was very well received by the metal scene. It was a huge success, and this one will even become more successful. The album consists of 8 songs, each one is very unique in its own way, and together, they form a complete disturbing piece of art.
First thing I will mention about this album, is not expect it follow the steps of “Mirror of Vibrations”. It is very different yet sounds very appealing to any metal head. The style changed a lot from Oriental Black Metal to somewhat Oriental Symphonic Death Metal. This is the first of a kind; where death metal is wrapped in oriental arrangements and a fully-fledged orchestra. Both of these interesting elements play side by side and though they are worlds apart, the mixture of the three elements takes you to a wonderland of creativity, bound only to perfection.
The album starts strong by "Crown of Centuries", very nice orchestral intro. Guitar riffs and chorus follow directly. This track features both the death metal vocals and the ever so familiar snaky black metal vocals; together they complete a dark picture. Then comes "Crystal Clear", the second track, it feels like a continuation of the first track, walks the same path. Very nice soprano performance there and a superb orchestral spiral right in the middle of the track. Oriental passages start to show towards the end taking over the front seat, complemented by the snaky vocal skills of Basem.
"A Picture of Dead Art" is a very strong masterpiece. In the middle there is a nay and oud part which sound very sad and full of pain and grief. Right after this part, till the end of the track definitely is the best part of the whole album. Listen for yourself and judge.
“AlZar” starts with the orchestra playing an oriental note. This note recalls the thought of desert, camels and hot summer day. The track goes on, and at last, there is a lead solo. Right in the middle of the song is again; one of the best parts of the album, very haunting oriental arrangements, and the choir is chanting "AlZar" which is an Arabic word for "exorcism". This song is the most oriental song in the whole album. It ends with oud playing a twisted note, something you'll enjoy for sure.
"All the Evidence", the fourth track starts strong. I like how the orchestra was made to play oriental notes along with oud, this is interesting indeed. "New Mystery" is a jewel, orchestra is more present here than in anywhere in the album, which I do not mind as long as it is not repetitive or boring.
“Dungeon Keys” was released as a single a while back and it deserves to be released as so, if I were in their place, I would've made the same choice. This is the only song I had access to its lyrics, which is very good, mysterious, philosophical, and complex and kept me coming back. By the middle of the song is again a stellar note of oud and nay. The nay is a flute like Arabian instrument. This specific nay part has thrown me back to DISMAL EUPHONY’a “Soria Moria Slott” days. Very emotional and warm, somewhere in the background is a twisted guitar playing a sad solo. This whole part feels like reproach.
Approaching the end with "Hot Blood Fumes”, the track starts with a "funny" tune, the Metal element then hits you right in the face with a grandiose orchestra in the background. This is my favorite part of the track, it is all built on a simple riff, though it changes sometimes here and there using different ways and instruments, one of my favorites of this album.
The arrangements made by the band are no less than perfect. Everything is in its right place, and in the right amount. When you are working with 3 elements at once, your love for one of them might drive you to make wrong decisions, which is definitely not the case here. Everything falls in its place for a greater image.
The performance of the band members is top notch; the vocals performance is up there with the best in class and drums is the driving heartbeat there, very strong and confident solid performance by the 2 man band. The guest, Fotis Benardo of SEPTIC FLESH did a great job with the guitar and bass lines. His passion shows in the way he composed these lines and his notes blend with the ODIOUS new style completely.
The album was recorded in three places. Greece (at DevaSoundz studio, where most of the metal part recording was done), Prague (the Filmharmonic Orchestra recorded their part) and finally, Alexandria (where the oriental parts were recorded). Mixing and Mastering took place in Sweden, at Fredman Studio. So what do you expect in this area? The cleanest production I’ve heard coming from an Egyptian band hands down. Superb!
This band is not comparable to other bands from the Arab region, no one has produced something with this magnitude; except the Israeli band, ORPHANED LAND of course. Even then, they are not the same style. ODIOUS has always been the first step taker and others follow. The album is not using the exhausted pharaonic theme, but at the same time they did keep their identity, even after the style has changed, you can still feel the flames of ODIOUS burning right below.
Now comes the cons part. 35 minutes is too short. It left me feeling not fully satisfied. Also I would’ve liked more lead guitar in the album, it is here and there, but not solid. ODIOUS over the past years parted ways with many members, but Basem remains as the evil architect behind the project.
1. Crown of Centuries
2. Crystal Clear
3. A Picture of Dead Art
5. All the Evidence
6. New Mystery
7. Dungeon Keys
8. Hot Blood Fumes