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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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The 2013 demo recording of Slovenian all-girl doom metal combo Mist, aptly called “demo” to avoid unnecessary confusion, is a worthwhile demonstration of a young band taking a traditional and classic approach to a genre to its logical conclusion. The demo is significantly heavier than most of its more marketable peers, and avoids at least some of the trappings of the occult rock trend from which it no doubt benefitted. Re-pressed no less than three times on CD due to great interest, and eventually re-released by the band’s current contractor Soulseller Records, these five Slovenian girls might yet surprise the doom metal world in the years to come once they find their own sound.

That the band was barely together for a year when these recordings were committed to tape shines through in the haphazard and sudden transitions of these two songs, some of which are rather rudimentary and forgettable. ‘Phobia’ is a straight-up rocker, and ‘The Living Dead’ is the earliest instance of Mist truly showing what they are capable of. Heavily inspired by Black Sabbath, although they are leaning more towards the heavier end of the spectrum instead of the expected psychedelia. While Mist is hardly the sort of band to imitate the brooding and droning Thorr’s Hammer, or the more classic doom oriented Rituals Of the Oak, the girls draw inspiration from two wells at once making the music accessible to the general metal populace while simultaneously offering something of interest to those more familiar with the doom metal subbranch. Mist hardly qualifies as a traditional – or epic doom metal combo in tradition of Candlemass, Rituals Of the Oak or Solitude Aeturnus – or the more droning variant such as Salome and Yob, but its inherent heaviness is a defining factor as to where their interest in the genre lies.

photoIt is exactly the slowest song on the demo that is the most interesting. Not only because it avoids the currently popular occult rock sound, but because Mist is plainly better when they slow down to a snail’s pace. That isn’t to say that the more straightforward Black Sabbath material (‘The Living Dead’) is any less interesting – the more traditional doom cut (‘Phobia’) is just more captivating and stronger all around. It was a wise marketing decision to include one song of each segment of the doom demographic they wish to appeal to. ‘The Living Dead’ is a stronger closer, but it sounds too similar to many other bands in this genre. It isn’t a track to differentiate itself, or Mist, from the releases of Seremonia, Kröwnn, Serpent Omega or bands of similar ilk. The most interesting track is ‘Phobia’ because it explores slower, altogether darker territory.

What does stand out are Nina Spruk’s powerful vocals, even though she’s occasionally plagued by her unflattering East-European inflection. Spruk is anything but your typical soaring doom singer as she has the sort of bellowing vocals that wouldn’t feel out of place in a stoner rock – or groove metal band. Her sultry whispers in ‘Phobia’ form the highlight of that track, and one can only hope that she’ll explore her vocal range on future recordings. Spruk’s vocals especially fit well with the slower nature of a track like ‘Phobia’ where Mist lays off the Black Sabbath grooves, and actually sounds like a genuine doom metal band. It would be advisable for the girls to explore this avenue to a great degree on future releases, although the Black Sabbath sound is more easily marketable. One can only imagine what Mist would be capable of if they further slowed down their music. Mist would be a powerful entity as the female equivalent to Winter circa “Into Darkness” or Yob circa “The Illusion Of Motion” and “The Unreal Never Lived”. Couple a slower overall pace with Spruk’s wider vocal palette, and something truly spectacular would be bound to happen. As of now Mist is content to uphold the status-quo, which is okay – but they are capable of so much more than just that. This demo proves just that.

The demo was recorded in November 2013 at Klub Jedro in Ljubljana, Slovenia with Benjamin Kic and the band producing. Kic provides the two tracks with a concrete sense of bottom-end heaviness, mostly thanks to prominent place for the bass guitar. There’s an almost analog warmth to the production. That the production is slightly more textured sounding than many other occult rock bands imitating the early Black Sabbath sound works in the band’s advantage. The guitar tone is crunchy and sufficiently heavy while not sacrificing any clarity in the process. The psychedelic artwork was created by drummer Mihaela Žitko, and for the most part it is the sort of vista you’d expect with a stoner metal band. While Mist is a doom metal band at heart, it are the stoner aspects that prevail the most on this demo, and that is a pity because they are capable of so much more than this facile and forgettable song and dance.  Recently the girls of Mist were offered a recording contract with Dutch label Soulseller Records. “Demo 2013” in a lot of ways sounds exactly like you think it does, but beneath the surface something is brewing that the band hopefully will capitalize on in their future output. Whereas bands as High Priest Of Saturn and Seremonia rely heavily on psychedelia Mist from the onset chose a heavier and more metallic direction, which they’ll hopefully explore further.