ODD FICTION — Puzzle Machine (review)

ODD FICTION — Puzzle Machine album cover EP · 2022 · Avant-garde Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
Metallo-zeuhl is in the house!!!

Coming from an undisclosed sector of France, ODD FICTION first emerged in 2012 with the lineup of Thomas Ripa (guitar, vocals), Léo Goudaroulis (drums, percussion) and Bastoul (bass) as a straight forward punk band but with the arrival of Gabriel Gadré (bass) and Pierre Cruz (guitar) the band caught the math rock bug and started crafting more progressive punk compositions that would end up on the band’s debut “La Vie Des Clown” in 2017. That album was fast and frenetic something like Gordian Knot meets The Flying Luttenbachers.

Fast forward to 2022 and ODD FICTION finally releases a followup titled PUZZLE MACHINE albeit in the form of a so-called EP but considering the album was about 37 minutes long and this one is just over 27, we’re only talking the difference of a single track or two. In the five years since ODD FICTION’s last release the band has tamed its sound considerably. No longer a loose canon flailing around like one of Weasel Walter’s projects, the band adopted the stabling genre of zeuhl to its mix which changes the band’s overall sound considerably. This EP features five tracks that all pack a punch.

The world of metal has been the slut of the music world having cross-pollinated with about every genre of music possible but until recently i haven’t really heard the hardcore prog genres such as zeuhl commingle with extreme metal. The Brazilian band Papangu which also formed in 2012 was first metal zeuhl hybrid i’ve heard with its 2021 “Holoceno.” I guess metallo-zeuhl is here to stay. And why not? The zeuhl style of jazz-rock has a very pleasing rhythmic stability that allows all kinds of improvisation to evolve around a steady beat that keeps the artist from completely losing the listener. Just listen to the previous release and then this one. See what i mean?

While zeuhl is a forgiving prog genre for its ability to adapt to just about everything, that by no means that every artist can pull it off. ODD FICTION seems to have been made for this gig! While the debut album was competent and engaging, this one is much more fun as it not only employs the bubbling rhythmic drive of the jazz-rock world invented by Magma but it offers an extreme form of metal to accompany these rhythms that actually works. That means that the metal is subordinate to the zeuhl’s stronger gravitational force however the band delivers all the intensity of a skilled tech death metal band as well as dropping the metal altogether and delving into metal-free avant-prog / math rock angularities.

Overall this is an impressive little gem of an EP with stellar instrumental interplay and playful creativity. No vocals on this one but the clever use of oscillating guitar riffs and Jannick Top inspired bass antics along with jazzy drum rolls with and without the intensity of extreme metal is highly satisfying. It’s like Christian Vander spawned a bunch of punks and they went all metal on him! Is it zeuhl? Is it math rock? Is it metal? Well, it’s all of the above of course! This is a very dynamic hybridization that doesn’t really let one genre or the other dominate. It’s all perfectly balanced for a brilliant performance. At least as a French band, it’s like Christian Vander keeping his influences in the family so to speak. This is a band i very much look forward to hearing more from.
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siLLy puPPy wrote:
1 year ago
Thanks and totally agree. I very well could round this up to 5 stars over time :)
1 year ago
Great write up Mike. Only two tracks in and this is fucking excellent!

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