Sunday 20 September 2020

Odious Mortem - Synesthesia

Labels: Willowtip Records

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital

Release Date: 17 Jan 2020


1. Dormant Retribution

2. Condemnation Fortold

3. Ruins Of The Timeworn

4. Replenish The Earth

5. In Abominable Form

6. Eagle's Tower

7. Cave Tower

8. Spirit Hole

9. Synchronicity

10. Dissonant Theology

I couldn't leave it any longer without diving into technical death metal again. This time it comes in the form of US quartet Odious Mortem and their 3rd (newest) full-length Synesthesia, which was released in January via Willowtip Records. Odious Mortem started out in 1998, releasing their very first demo five years later. Following that, they delivered two full-lengths (Devouring The Prophecy in 2005) and later (Cryptic Implosion in 2007), before a gap of thirteen years. This is their second Willowtip album.

If you want truly brutal and technical death metal in this modern age, you need look no further than Willowtip Records and the label has proven the ideal home for Odious Mortem. They instantly jump into album opener ‘Dormant Retribution’ with classic death metal battery and the requisite technical instrumentation that people have come to expect from this genre. They do it very well too. There’s a freedom about the music on Synesthesia, which is at odds with the sometimes rigid way in which brutal tech-death bands offen operate. ‘Condemnation Foretold’ benefits from a lengthier playing time and as a result, a more expressive structure with solos and progression joining the fray.

There’s no rest as the songs come thick and fast here, which is how it should be and on ‘Ruins Of The Timeworn’, aggression is mixed with subtle stop/start elements to drag everything in a more traditional direction. It’s easy to overlook how much inspiration death metal bands take from thrash metal. That influence is evident on ‘Replenish The Earth’ in it’s riffs and technicality. As previously on Synesthesia, it’s the instrumentation that really impresses and I could quite happily listen to an instrumental version of the album all day long. That’s not to say the vocals aren’t impressive, they are but they just seem to struggle against the music ever so slightly imo.

The sheer tempo led by the percussion on ‘In Abominable Form’ is near inhumane and even though the song seems brief, Odious Mortem fill it with breaks and subtle passages so it doesn’t just turn into a wall of brutality. Those passages are often off-kilter though and contain some traces of ADHD (musically anyway). Passing the midway point in the album and ‘Eagle’s Tower’ shows just what can be done when tech death meets prog death. It make this band/label pairing even more obvious, while overall this is strongest song on the album so far in terms of depth and musicality.

At this point with the intensity of ‘Cave Dweller’, it almost seems pointless tying to be more descriptive about the music except to say that it’s simply brutal. There you go, probably the least pretentious sentence I’ve come up with during this while review so far. The experimental side of Odious Mortem shines through once again on ‘Spirit Hole’, with it’s extended instrumental passages and constantly changing tempos. It’s a hell of a journey to fit into a sub four-minute song that’s for sure. 

Penultimate song ’Synchronicity’ is the instrumental track I’ve been waiting for on Synesthesia, as it demonstrates just how impressive the guitar-playing is on the album and when the full band kicks in at the midway point, that impression only gets better. There’s just something awe-inspiring about it. Closing out with ‘Dissonant Theology’ and as the title suggests, it’s a lesson in dissonance and extremity that’s tempered by the band’s controlled and accurate playing style. It’s a really strong way to finish the album. If you’re a fan of death metal in any form, you’ll find this album enjoyable. It may not be for everyone but as a standalone record, it’s bloody good.

You can stream and buy Synesthesia on all formats below:-

Odious Mortem -

Willowtip Records -

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