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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.

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“Theories Of Light”, the debut of Italian combo Nümph, presents an interesting variation on a sound prevalent during the second half of the 1990s. In essence “Theories Of Light” is a contemporary variation of the atmospheric dark metal sound cultivated by the likes of Alastis, and Tiamat during the 90s. Nümph however takes influences from non-metallic genres, and for the majority of its duration the metallic aspects of “Theories Of Light” are incidental. In fact Nümph could be passed off for a light pop/rock band weren’t it for the occassional foray into heavier, and more riff-centric territory.

10960261_916289041735397_3585682912396006539_oThe main aim of the record is achieving a serene atmosphere of introspective tranquillity, although the band will occassionally wander into more metallic territory within the confines of its main genre. The riffing, whenever it surfaces, tends to be jagged, almost staccato in form that is reminiscent of “Polars” era Textures. However Nümph is at its best when playing atmospherically,  cfr ‘Dust Of Souls’ and ‘Death and Rebirth’. The title track, and ‘Deep Impact’ are the most riff-centric and thoroughly metal sounding, whereas the remainder of the album is more atmospheric and breezy. What Nümph lacks in heaviness they complement with atmospherically rich music that isn’t about instant gratification, but gradual acclimatisation to their soothing, fragile sound.

That much influence is drawn from outside the metallic sphere should be obvious from the onset. Singer Marco Bartoli sounds like the average grunge singer, and much of the guitarplaying by Luca Giampietri is reminiscent of U2’s The Edge. A good portion of the album is built around breezy, floating melodies that are reminiscent of early Coldplay and post-“Pop” era U2. The prominent bass lines of Antonio Conti truly carry the songs, and much of the record, along with the standard rock drumming of Giuseppe D'Aleo. While being conventionally poppy for the most part “Theories Of Light”, at least through its introspective atmosphere, and through some of its solo’ing, recalls the David Gilmour fronted era of Pink Floyd on more than one occassion. Each member complements the other, but it are the bass licks of Antonio Conti that truly give Nümph its aura. The inobtrusive drumming of Giuseppe D'Aleo strengthens the minimal guitar work of Luca Giampietri. Marco Bartoli’s voice would probably come into it own in a full-blown pop/rock band, and he thankfully isn’t hindered by an obvious accent, or thick inflection.

The tranquil opening to ‘Dust Of Souls’ and ‘In Dark Limbo’ especially recalls Pink Floyd. Likewise deal most of the lyrics with esoterica, celestial - and life-affirming themes. ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ refers to the dream of a meeting place between Heaven and Earth. ‘Death and Rebirth’ and ‘Within the Core’ ramps up the U2 influence in terms of melody, and bass playing. In the ways that matter “Theories Of Light” is a reimagining of the unassuming, nonthreatening dark metal sound Alastis pushed on “…And Death Smiled” and “The Other Side” – but far more diversified in terms of influence and execution. It is refreshing to hear a band writing music that isn’t influenced by any modern day trends, and that is ultimately “Theories Of Light” biggest strength. Nümph doesn’t aim to be the heaviest band, but instead focus on emotional resonance through breezy songwriting.

“Theories Of Light” was recorded at The Basement Studios, and mixed by Matt Bayles at Red Room Studios, Seattle . “Theories Of Light” was mastered by Ed Brooks at RFI Studio, Seattle. The record is adorned with truly spectacular artwork by Jeffrey Smith for Ascending Storm. It will be interesting to see how Nümph develops from here as they can choose to explore either direction. It would probably be in the best interest of the band to shed what little metallic vestiges they currently still carry, and fully embrace the atmospheric side of its sound. This in turn would allow singer Marco Bartoli to spread his wings, and give bass guitarist Antonio Conti to the room to become a key player. It is unfortunate that “Theories Of Light” seems to dwell within an unmarketable niche, and that Nümph has gone overlooked by many in favor for more easily digestable swill. The lack of industry pressure, and public scrutiny however does allow Nümph to further expand and explore its sound while preparing material for its second full length effort.