Prog-metal outfit Vokonis has quietly made quite the name for itself in the past few years or so with its existing trio of records. That name will grow in notoriety Friday when it releases its fourth album, Odyssey. The six song record is a work that definitely holds its own against its metal and prog-metal counterparts, both more well-known and lesser. That is due in part to its featured musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly. The lyrical themes that accompany the record’s musical arrangements adds to the record’s success. It will be discussed a little later. The record’s production puts the finishing touch to its presentation. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the recording. All things considered, they make the 40-minute album a must hear for any metal purist.
Vokonis’ forthcoming fourth album Odyssey is a unique addition to this year’s crop of new independent and hard rock/metal albums. It is a record that provided the proper support, is certain to continue building the band’s name within the noted genres. That is proven in part through the album’s featured musical arrangements. Throughout the course of the album’s 40-minute run time, it incorporates a variety of influences in each arrangement to make its whole. ‘Rebellion,’ the album’s opener for instance, opens with a guitar riff that would fit easily into any active rock radio programmer’s playlist. As the vocals come into play, the guttural screams from front man Simon Ohlsson lend themselves to comparison to those of Crowbar front man Kirk Windstein. The more melodic, clean vocals from Ohlsson’s band mates – Jonte Johansson (bass, vocals), Peter Ottosson (drums, percussion), and Per Wiberg (keyboards) – make for more of a Tool-esque sound. The two stylistic approaches are vastly different, but used against one another, somehow manage to work. The full-on wall of sound approach that the band uses here is also comparable to that of Crowbar. It all sounds very raucous, but at the same time controlled in its chaotic approach. It is just one example of how the album’s musical content plays into its appeal.
On a completely different note, the musical arrangement that is presented in the late entry ‘Hollow Waters’ lends itself to comparison to works from the likes of Leprous, as well as to those of Crowbar. The Leprous comparison comes in the choruses with their full yet somewhat ethereal sound. It makes for a welcome change of pace to ensure listeners’ maintained engagement and entertainment. As with ‘Rebellion,’ this song’s arrangement is just one more example of what make the album’s musical content so noteworthy. ‘Blackened Wings,’ the album’s lead single, is yet another example of how the power and variety in the album’s musical content makes it successful.
‘Blackened Wings’ is just as busy and loud as any of the album’s other arrangements. Yet even in that controlled chaos, there is something so engaging. The guttural death/black metal style screams set alongside the song’s death metal guitars lend themselves to comparisons to works from Between the Buried and Me. The contrast of that sound to the cleaner, heavy, sludge metal style approach to the rest of the song makes for even more interest here. The expert balance of those distinctly differing styles speaks highly of the production that went into the album. This aspect will be discussed later. Staying on the topic at hand, this song’s arrangement does just as much as those already examined and the rest of the album’s works, to show why the diverse influences and power in the arrangements make them so important to the album. The whole of the album’s musical arrangements, including the clear Dream Theater influence exhibited in ‘Azure,’ creates a solid foundation for Odyssey. Building on that foundation is the lyrical content that accompanies the album’s intense musical content.
The lyrical themes that are presented throughout Odyssey will make for just as much engagement as the musical arrangements that they join. Case in point is the lyrical content featured in ‘Hollow Waters.’ The song’s lyrical content seems rather nihilistic on the surface, what with the mentions of the “Circle of sorrow/Closing in on you” and everything bad going on in the world.” However, the song’s lyrical theme ultimately is one of hope. This is pointed out in the song’s second verse, which states, “Cities will fall/Empires crumble/Hope can prevail/We will follow/Forests will burn/Under the scourge/Lead us again through these faraway lands.” The message of hope is raised again in the song’s third verse, which finds Ohlsson singing, “Wrath of the scorned/Born of fire/Tainted fury leads to nothing/Let it all pass/Open yourself/Lead us away through these faraway lands.” That positive message is delivered once more in the song’s final verse, stating, “The everlasting light/Is the flame of eternity.” These notes and the rest of the song’s lyrical content join to form a unique approach to a welcome theme. When that theme joins with the song’s already noted equally unique musical arrangement, it shows in whole why the album in whole is so powerful.
The lyrical content featured in the album’s title track is another example of what makes it such a strong new offering from Vokonis. This song’s lyrical content seems (at least in the ears and mind of this critic) to deliver a message of living life and facing life’s challenges. Again, this is only this critic’s interpretation. The inference is made as Ohlsson sings about overcoming “the final step” and the “Beacon of tranquility” shining “upon us all/Light of serenity/Essence of the divine.” It’s one more unique lyrical presentation from Vokonis on its latest outing that is certain to keep any listener engaged. When this original presentation is considered along with the other content examined here and the rest of the album’s lyrical content, that whole leaves no doubt as to the importance of said content. When the album’s collective lyrical content pairs with the record’s equally powerful musical arrangements, that body makes for even more engagement and entertainment. Even with that in mind, it is only a portion of what make the album such a surprisingly engaging and entertaining work. The album’s production rounds out its most important elements.
As was noted earlier, the songs featured throughout Odyssey each utilize a powerful wall of sound style approach, as well as other elements and influences. Considering how much goes on throughout the album, those behind the glass had to pay exceptional attention to every minute detail. Luckily, that painstaking attention to detail paid off from beginning to end. The result is a record that even being so active and full, completely engages and entertains. Keeping all of this in mind, the album proves to be a surprisingly impressive addition to this year’s field of new hard rock and metal albums.
Vokonis’ forthcoming album Odyssey is a strong new presentation from the already established prog-metal outfit from Sweden. It is a work that serves as a strong starting point for those audiences who are less familiar with the band and its catalog and an equally new offering for the band’s established fan base. That is proven in part through the album’s musical arrangements. The arrangements exhibit a wide range of influences, not just prog-metal. That applies within each song and from one to the next. The lyrical content featured throughout the album adds to its interest. It is presented in truly unique fashion even as it touches on what seem to be some familiar topics. The album’s production rounds out its most important elements. It ensures that even as busy as each song is, the record’s arrangements do not become muddied and worn down in themselves. The result of the work put in through the album’s production is an album that will appeal aesthetically just as much as for its content. It all makes the album a musical odyssey that any metal purist will be glad he or she took. More information on Odyssey is available along with all of Vokonis’ latest news at:
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