At the conclusion of 2014 SonicAbuse had the opportunity to review ‘God’s forgotten orbit’, the first album released under the banner of Odetosun, a German progressive metal outfit whose influences include the likes of Tool, Gojira and The Ocean. The album was a stunning success, a metallic meltdown that was complex yet accessible, and furiously independent. Odetosun are now back with another opus and this time it’s a four track, forty-minute piece that is inspired by the 1972 novel “As on a darkling plain” by Ben Bova. Such literary ambition makes for a compelling experience and one look at the thoughtful and beautifully phrased lyrics makes you see just how detailed Odetosun’s approach to music making is. With stunning artwork from Thomas Hoechstaedter and a dark, brooding atmosphere that draws its influences from across the progressive spectrum, ‘the dark dunes of Titan’ is yet another masterclass in progressive metal and deserves to bring Odetosun to an ever expanding audience.
Opening with the ten-minute instrumental track ‘at the shore of the ammonia sea’, Odetosun get off to an amazing start, delivering a song that sounds like David Gilmour guesting with the Ocean. Benny Stuchly’s guitar playing is astonishing, full of depth and emotion whilst drummer Gunther Rehmer builds a solid foundation upon which he can daub his colours. There’s a more traditional progressive vibe here than on the previous record with synth elements adding to the air of enchantment. As the song journeys further toward its conclusion hints of tool appear in the swirling mists as a rhythmic bass line pulses in the darkness and the guitar work moves from fluid soloing to a rather nimbler, picked approach. Few bands would be brave enough to start a four-track record with a lengthy instrumental, but it builds a sense of atmosphere and expectation for when the vocals will finally arrive.
Singer Luke Stuchly finally appears on the album’s second track, ‘machine horizon’, a thirteen-minute piece that explores the destruction detailed in Ben Bova’s fantasy epic. Cleverly worded, the piece is evocative without being too specific and Luke’s toxic delivery is both brutal and clear whilst the music is punishingly heavy. As with previous album ‘God’s forgotten orbit’, the touch points include the likes of Gojira and The Ocean, but there’s a fluidity to the guitar playing in particular which sees the band raise the game from their last outing and a touch of Opeth has also entered the mix in the chord progressions and deathly atmosphere. Once again, however, Odetosun have mastered their influences and harnessed them to their own unique cause and the result is undeniably impressive. The album’s most beautiful piece of music arrives in the gorgeous instrumental ‘remember sequoia forest’ which is built around shimmering acoustic guitar and dark synth lines. A remarkably evocative piece of work it flows neatly into the epic conclusion that is the title track. A dark monstrous piece of music that takes in plenty of light and shade, there’s a strong tool vibe in the rhythmic pulse that underpins the song, coupled with elements of neurosis’ dark grind. It’s a thrilling masterpiece that draws the album to a perfect close, and you’ll still be picking out details in the months to come.
With a detailed concept, impressive production courtesy of Benny Stuchly and gorgeous artwork, ‘the dark dunes of titan’ is one of those rare albums where everything comes together to create a thrillingly immersive experience. The music is beautiful, brutal and multi-faceted; the lyrics intelligent and the musicianship world class. If ‘god’s forgotten orbit’ was a statement of intent, then ‘the dark dunes of titan’ should see the band take a much greater place in the consciousness of the record-buying public at large. It’s hard to pick out one area where the band excel the most, but, perhaps, it could be argued that the greatest success is that the album is symphonic in nature, each track flowing perfectly into the next, the story ebbing and flowing across the album’s run time. It’s a coherent narrative piece that needs to be heard in one sitting and, as with the best albums, that sitting passes in the merest blink of an eye. Odetosun have, amazingly, one-upped ‘God’s forgotten orbit’ and if you consider yourself a progressive metal fan then you should equally consider this to be an essential addition to your collection.