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Sickening Horror was formed in Athens, Greece in 2002 by guitarist George Antipatis, Ilias Daras and George Kollias. The band’s history can be traced back to 1999 with an earlier Hellenic formation dubbed Serial Killer. These days Sickening Horror is mostly remembered for introducing a drummer by the name of George Kollias to the world. Prior to “Overflow” the Greeks released two other albums, but this is the first where all pieces fall into place. This record is the most ambitious and artistic Sickening Horror have yet lend their name to.

The core trio of George Antipatis (vocals, guitar), Ilias Daras (bass guitar, keyboards), and Andreas Karayiannis (guitar) remain from the preceding album while “Overflow” is the recording debut for new drummer Vasilis Antipatis. With addition of the Antipatis sibling behind the kit the constant rotating drummer slot should be resolved. Even though Sickening Horror released two positively received albums on as many labels prior with “When Landscapes Bled Backwards” (2007) and “The Dead End Experiment” (2009) they never were able to fuse its different elements as the way they do here. For the first time Sickening Horror is living up to its full potential as a band, and “Overflow” is an artistic success mainly because its composers are no longer limiting themselves by the conventions of the genre in which they made a name for themselves.

One of the biggest strides that the band has made on “Overflow”’ in its songwriting is finding a workable equilibrium between the electronic -, technical - and death metal components of its sound. Its debut “When Landscapes Bled Backwards” focused heavily on the death metal aspect, whereas “The Dead End Experiment” was far more adventurous and less conventional genrewise, but technical to the point of excess. “Overflow” finally finds a balance between all three aspects and its elegant mix of influences makes it sound almost effortless. Even though Sickening Horror has had three drummers on as many albums (and as many label partners for that matter) the transition with its latest percussionist is as seamless and natural as one could imagine.

f4dce690729ff09224edf93bf3bOpener ‘Interstellar’ has multiple fantastic guitar leads. The piano that ‘The Day the Worms Became Kings’ introduces is cornerstone to, and one of the most defining facets of, the abum. ‘Fractal Maze’, a track primarily driven by Ilias Daras’ throbbing bass guitar and light piano notes during its first half, sounds closer to Hungarian progressive metal band Dreamgrave than the traditional death metal Sickening Horror focused on with previous efforts. The only thing amiss seem to be guest vocals by the classically trained Mária Molnár. ‘Red Pill Initiation’ continues with the piano usage, and proves that Sickening Horror is made up of versatile musicians that could have easily played in formative American genre act Death. ‘I, Explorer in Akashic Fields’ is the most ambitious song, both in structure and concept, the band has ever penned. ‘Of Lives Never Lived’ builds further on the Hindu and Buddhist philosophy of the preceding track. ‘Versus Entropia’ opens with a bass guitar solo and the piano returns once again.

Restraint, a factor so often missing in the more contemporary and technical forms of death metal, is key to “Overflow” being the resounding artistic victory that it is. Whereas many younger acts insist of putting in as many riffs, notes, and time changes as humanly possible Sickening Horror’s latest is all about restraint and pacing. When it moves into technical and extreme territory it does so convincingly, yet the majority of the record isn’t overly concerned with adhering to contemporary death metal conventions. The pace is languid at times, and the record is more concerned with feeling and atmosphere rather than with cramming in as many notes as possible. As such “Overflow” is an extreme metal album first, and a death metal record second. Clearly it was a labor of love for all involved, and the album reflects the strong artistry that flows through out.

“Overflow” sees Greek band Sickening Horror moving away from the genre’s typical trappings and towards more breezy and atmospheric territory. Where in the past the band was heavily indebted to the likes of Hate Eternal and early Nile now Sickening Horror is moving into the realms inhabited by bands as Odetosun. More than ever before there’s a greater focus on, and bigger prominence of, sparkling, emotive guitar leads within the music of Sickening Horror. The thundering and concrete sounding bass guitar is integral to each of the compositions. The extended usage of piano through out the album adds a rather unexpected atmospheric flair that this band previously didn’t have. The electronics and industrial elements seemingly are completely toned out in favor of the far better sounding piano. With the solos/leads becoming more of a focal point there’s a sense of musicality that Sickening Horror’s structurally rigid past albums didn’t have. On all fronts “Overflow” is gigantic step forward as a musical – and artistic statement. The door is wide out for Sickening Horror to further explore this direction.

Unlike its preceding two records Sickening Horror crafted “Overflow” on its own terms and on its own time. The album was recorded, mixed and mastered at the band’s own Dysmorphia Studio with guitarist Andreas Karayiannis producing. The production evenly distributes all instruments yet gives the bass guitar all the space it needs to fully complement the crunchy guitars. The drum tone, often the bane of earlier Sickening Horror records, is commanding but clear with organic tones for snares, cymbals and kicks. The production bathes in an organic warmth that preceding Sickening Horror albums lacked so severely. Every defect that previously harmed Sickening Horror has been duly corrected with this effort. “Overflow” is the band’s career defining moment.

The abstract artwork by Dimitris Tsountaros is a signpost for the significant changes Sickening Horror introduced on this record. Besides that it is a much welcomed breath of fresh air as death metal artwork have been getting increasingly more comical, over-the-top and caricatural over the last half decade. In fact the artwork looks like anything you’d expect of a stereotypical metal band, let alone a death metal one. The change in both artwork and logo is telling – as obviously Sickening Horror is no longer concerned with fitting the genre’s limited and limiting conventions. “Overflow” is a record about breaking away from established conventions and defying expectations. For that reason alone it is alltogether more interesting because it finally embraces the innate artistry that both George Antipatis and Ilias Daras have been hinting at for so long now.

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“Gods Forgotten Orbit”, the debut of German atmospheric metal combo Odetosun, is a fresh take on a subgenre that was last popular in the 1990s. Featuring prominent bass guitar licks, and floating melodies “Gods Forgotten Orbit” is part of a minor resurgence of a sound that the likes of Alastis and Tiamat pioneered during the 90s. Odetosun is however a good deal heavier, and technical in its playing compared to the earlier bands. In many ways Odetosun is a metal equivalent of the David Gilmour-fronted Pink Floyd.

Odetosun was formed in Ausburg, Germany in 2008 as the Viking metal band Oden’s Raven, who released a solitary album before changing names and musical direction in 2012. The band consists of siblings Benny Stuchly (electronic/acoustic guitar, bass guitar, synthesizer), Luke Stuchly (vocals), along with Oden’s Raven alumnus Gunther Rehmer (drums). The band is part of a relatively new movement of atmospheric metal bands that draw inspiration from 1970s UK psychedelic rock band Pink Floyd. Like the stylistically similar Nümph this band also focuses on serene atmosphere over brutality.

10362822_845045768849442_3321602764682612566_oThe band’s lyrics deal with cosmic themes, and astral phenomena. When interpreting this celestial imagery on a metaphorical level the lyrics are incredibly profound and meaningful. ‘Cracking the Shell Of Calypso’ is about one of the Nereids (sea nymphs) mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey in Greek mythology, or alternatively about the well known planetary sattelite moon of the planet Saturn. Metaphorically, it is about the finding of knowledge. ‘Veil Of Leviathan’ details the Kundalini, an indwelling spiritual energy, usually represented as either a goddess or a sleeping serpent, that must be awakened for the seeker of truth to reach divine union. The Leviathan in the title refers to the celestial dragon, as in the constellation of Draco, that holds of the pearl of wisdom in its jaw. The dragon must be slain in order to reach enlightenment. ‘Journey to Gliese’ is an instrumental track about Gliese, the triple-star system in the constellation of Libra.

‘Cracking the Shell Of Calypse’ opens with the band’s signature pumping bass guitar. The track has amazing guitar work that is melodic, floating and entirely death metal. ‘Veil Of Leviathan’ has a swirling guitar riff and is the most conventionally death metal track of the record. While more straightforward in its first half, the second half proves the song’s true strenght as it fuses atmosphere with battering riffing. ‘Eclipse Chaser’ is in the vein of the opening track again. The processed vocals are redeemed by the fragile acoustic guitar and keyboard segment that concludes the song. ‘Journey to Gliese’ is a compelling atmospheric instrumental song that arrives just at the right time in the middle of the record. ‘The Swarming Infinity’ concludes with an extended David Gilmour alike solo. Among the standout tracks of the record are ‘Cracking the Shell Of Calypso’, ‘Eclipse Chaser’, the entirely instrumental ‘Journey to Gliese’ and ‘The Swarming Infinity’. The tasteful vocoder parts in the title track, and its extended soaring David Gilmour guitar solo push the album towards an atmospheric/emotive apex in its closing.

Opposite of its contemporaries the bass guitar is the lead instrument for Odetosun’s music, and the guitars mostly function as rhythmic support except when there’s a lead/solo section. While Odetosun is death metal in form it functions in the same as the David Gilmour fronted Pink Floyd albums. Understandably the trio is at its best when it is at its most atmospheric, and least conventionally death metal. In fact the least impressive aspect of Odetosun is its death metal, and the trio would be better off fully embracing its technical – and atmospheric inclinations on future material. The band’s strongest material resembles Pink Floyd’s “The Division Bell” in various ways. As with its British inspirations there’s a sense of sadness that looms over “Gods Forgotten Orbit”. ‘Journey to Gliese’ is Odetosun’s equivalent to Pink Floyd’s ‘Marooned’ or ‘One Of These Days’. All songs were written by multi-instrumentalist and producer Benny Stuchly,  with exception of ‘Eclipse Chaser‘ that was co-written with Peter Schmid.

The album was recorded in varous sessions between August 2012 and March 2013 in the band’s homestudio. Multi-instrumentalist and main creative force Benny Stuchly was responsible for producing and engineering. Compared to label sanctioned releases there’s a sense of openness to the production work on “Gods Forgotten Orbit”. The prominence of the bass guitar, along with the light washes of synthesizer and acoustic guitar sections allow for a very organic, and natural production. The record is neither under- or overproduced, its a delicate balance that gives each instrument its required space without compromising the overall quality of the mix. Unlike a lot of modern releases the production isn’t brickwalled, or compressed sounding at any point. The artwork Thomas Hoechstaedter fits with the trio’s celestial and mythological concepts.

With the death metal genre growing more stale,  oversaturated and caricatural each year it is heartening to hear bands like Odetosun, who take the genre as a basis to branch out into territory one doesn’t usually associate with the genre. “Gods Forgotten Orbit” is at its strongest when it abandons the death metal foundation for something altogether more breezy and atmospheric. Odetosun is part of a number of European bands reinvigorating the atmospheric subgenre again after a decade. Hopefully we’ll hear more from Odetosun in the nearby future as the direction on, and various aspects of “Gods Forgotten Orbit” beg to be more thoroughly explored. Germany has always had a knack of quirky death metal, and Odetosun and its debut album is no different in that regard.