Oddland's 2012 debut, The Treachery Of Senses, is an album that took me completely by surprise. Oddland is a Finnish Progressive Metal quartet who first entered the spotlight by winning the 2011 Suomi Metal Star contest, which then earned them a deal with Century Media. One of the first things I noticed which listening to their debut is that it is difficult to compare them to other Progressive Metal groups – a reflection which may be attributable to the fact that Oddland did not originally start as a Progressive Metal band, but as a rock-oriented band with leanings toward grunge. It wasn't until vocalist/guitarist Sakari Ojanen returned to the band in 2008 after a year-long trip to Spain that the group began to travel in this direction. This album is not only an album that shows a unique style, but it is also one that starts strong and finishes strong without a single weak track – right from track one I found myself banging my head involuntarily as if a metal Pied Piper had come to visit. One of the things that I feel makes Oddland a unique and enjoyable experience is the contrast, at times, between the textures of the band's sound and the singer's voice. I might compare Sakari Ojanen's vocals to a mixture of Daniel Gildenlow of Pain of Salvation, Daniel Estrin of Voyager, and Mariusz Duda of Riverside. Sakari has a strong baritone voice which can be very soothing and smooth at times, but then at other times he shows an ability to hit hard with straining emotions and force. And, as I was saying, what really makes the music fascinating to me is how Oddland at times employs a technique of combining Sakari's soothing tones with a chaotic, crashing, dissonant texture with the guitars and drums. But they show a maturity in their songwriting in that multiple musical textures are employed, trading off between softer, more soothing tones and heavy hitting dissonances. Oddland also employs the technique of evolving musical textures, whereby they will build a texture and then add to it or change it slightly rather than merely repeat the same pattern over and over. Their textures are almost Djent-like in this way, but never quite get to the point of being so rhythmically based or crashingly dissonant as to qualify them for entry into this sub-genre. Indeed, it is their ability to contrast between mellow and aggressive, dissonant and soothing that makes this album an entertaining and interesting experience all the way through. This is one of those albums that I was not able to form or articulate an opinion on until I had given it a few listens in order to digest, and really wrap my head around the music. The masterful usage of textures caused the album to grow on me over a number of returns, and actually gave me the desire to come back to it again and again. At this point I feel it is one of the best Progressive Metal albums, and perhaps the best Progressive Metal debut, of the year 2012.
Originally written for www.seaoftranquility.org