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Bavarian progressive death metal trio Odetosun have been one of our favourite constellations in the underground of recent years. The trio – Luke Stuchly (vocals), Benny Stuchly (guitars, bass guitar, keyboards) and Gunther Rehmer (drums) - formed as Oden’s Raven in 2008 as a typical melodic death metal band with Viking themes, not unlike early Amon Amarth and Unleashed and their ilk, before steering towards more adventurous realms. We extensively sang our praises for their 2013 debut “Gods Forgotten Orbit” on these pages, but never came around to properly covering their second opus “The Dark Dunes Of Titan” from 2015 the way it probably deserved and the way we probably should have. Now, four years removed from their second album, the Stuchly brothers are back with ‘Spiritual Decay’, the first in a series of thematically interconnected singles to be released seperately. Whether Odetosun has abandoned the album format as a whole is presently unclear, but it’s good to have the masters of the atmospheric and the meditative back all the same. So how does ‘Spiritual Decay’ fit in with Odetosun’s repertoire?

There has always been a profound Pink Floyd influence evident through out the music that Odetosun writes. Whether it’s the David Gilmour inspired manner that Benny solos or the resounding booming bass guitar and the serene keyboards that feature prominently in the trio’s compositions. The more progressive – and ambient aspects of both “The Division Bell” and “A Momentary Lapse Of Reason” all can be heard in the two records preceding this single. Comparatively ‘Spiritual Decay’ is on the uptempo and upbeat side of things compared to what Odetosun usually does. However not soon after the opening section the single reverts back to the trio’s usually meditative midtempo and it sounds like nothing substantial has changed since Odetosun last released music. “The Dark Dunes Of Titan” was a nearly 50-minute conceptual exercise inspired by the 1972 Ben Bova novel “As On A Darkling Plain”. ‘Spiritual Decay’ was inspired the ubiquitous decline of civilization and spiritual achievements of human culture, and the first in a series of singles to be sporadically released until the trio’s third album materializes. As an isolated track ‘Spiritual Decay’ fits in seamlessly with what the trio has done before.

What has always separated Odetosun from more conventional bands is their staunch refusal to let themselves be dictated by their metallic components. Odetosun is far more dreamy and ethereal than, say, an Obscura or a Pavor. Like both those bands the bass guitar features prominently and their classification as death metal is secondary to their progressive - and post rock inclinations. Another great thing is that Odetosun never adheres to the typical metal imagery and visuals. Like Neurosis before them these three men are comfortable in their everyman and mountain man look. Stuchly’s signature melodies run rampant through out ‘Spiritual Decay’ and that it could have been culled from either “The Dark Dunes Of Titan” or “Gods Forgotten Orbit” speaks volumes of the creative alchemy that these three men have going on. There have been changes in the Odetosun camp. Their production value has steadily increased and their musicality and creativity is on an all-time high since the days of “Gods Forgotten Orbit”. If ‘Spiritual Decay’ is but a prelude to further new music we can only hope that Odetosun will continue to release new singles until their following album at long last arrives.

Suitably below the mainstream and somewhat of an underdog Odetosun is the ultimate musical pariah. They’re probably “too heavy” for the progressive rock crowd and, logically, too laidback and esoteric for the stereotypical death metal fan. Odetosun is guided only by their creativity and since their inception they haven’t paid much attention to what they classify as. Whether you want to call them as a progressive rock band with death metal overtones, or as a death metal band with progressive inclinations – the long and short of it is that Odetosun is one of the better independent metal bands currently working the German underground. “Gods Forgotten Orbit” sounded very oceanic, breezy, and exotic, “The Dark Dunes Of Titan” gravitated towards a more spacey, airy and celestial direction. ‘Spiritual Decay’ combines the two in something that can only be described as meditative and, well, spiritual. If Nümph or Caelestis played death metal, they would probably sound something like this. As it stands Odetosun remains criminally underappreciated in their own genre. If ‘Spiritual Decay’ can turn a few more people towards their music, then it served its purpose.

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Formed in México City, México in 2006, originally as a reunion of an earlier band called Erógena. Upon auditioning singers, and the eventual hiring of Dulce Robles, the Vitruvius concept came into being. After releasing its self-titled debut in 2011, the band relocated to Xalapa, Veracruz. "Above the Silvered Sky" arrives after a half decade hiatus. Originally slated for release in 2015, the album was finally released this year - and was criminally overlooked by the corporate metal press.

The band name comes from 1st century BC Roman author, architect, civil - and military engineer Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, commonly known as Vitruvius. Vitruvius is known for his multi-volume work entitled “De architectura”. The tome is considered one of the most important sources of modern knowledge of Roman building methods, as well as the planning and design of structures, both large and small.

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In its current form Vitruvius consists of Dulce Robles (vocals), Oskar Villareal (lead, acoustic guitar, bass guitar), and Ronnie Rodriguez (drums) with Lucas Espinoza providing studio keyboards and piano. Oozing with Latin American warmth and graced by the sensual vocals of frontwoman Dulce Robles, on "Above the Silvered Sky" Vitruvius is neither excessive nor bloated. Vitruvius delicately balances technically advanced sections with more vocal-centric segments and tranquil moments. Robles on her part eschews the trappings of more typical singers, and never overcompensates. Her emotive delivery will always outclass her operatic counterparts. Villareal and Rodriguez are the obvious selling points for the record.

The trio’s greatest strength lies in its sense of moderation. That moderation is reflected in its compositions, which never become too ambitious for their own good. All tracks stay within manageable length, only 'Uncertainty' is the exception as it reaches and surpasses the 8-minute mark. On tracks as 'The Maze' Vitruvius comes within vicinity of Hungarian genre act Dreamgrave, but never quite reaches the same level of mastery. 'Forgotten Smiles' was released as an advance single in 2015, and was a good indicator of the direction for "Above the Silvered Sky". It is unfortunate that none of Vitruvius' Latin American heritage seeped into the music.

The album was recorded and mixed at Jaxx Studio and Magic Hat Audio. "Above the Silvered Sky" was mastered at Beacon Soundworks Studios in Beacon, New York. The production is economic in that it gives each instrument its required space, and balances them adequately against each other. Forgoing the digital sheen and smooth gloss of higher budgeted acts "Above the Silvered Sky" sounds incredible in its sparseness. As before the album is adorned with a stunning digital art piece for its cover.

Vitruvius is rigorously disciplined on "Above the Silvered Sky" as it stays well within the perimeter of the progressive metal genre. The trio is at its strongest at its most fragile. Neither is this a record to challenge anybody’s perceptions of the progressive metal genre. Vitruvius is comfortable with its position in the underground, and seems content at its place in its regional scene. "Above the Silvered Sky" should appeal to fans from the early works of Dream Theater and Symphony X. It is great to see México excelling at other genres outside of death – and black metal.