Taking their name from a Kafka story, Ukrainian quartet Odradek Room greets us suspiciously with their debut album, ‘Bardo. Relative Reality’. 7 sweeping tracks of undulating emotion and anguish ooze from the stereo for just under an hour, putting the average song at around 8 minutes…welcome to an album where ‘epic’ is commonplace and ‘average’ is nonexistent! It is quite some time into ‘Bardo…’ before the vocals even appear but on the occassion of their rare appearance, the diversity shown, from pig squeals, sadistic screams and then, more fittingly, quiet and whispered melodies. Regardless, the vocal presentation always suits that particular sound the band is relaying. Changing gears and directions on a whim is one of the strengths of Odradek Room, as the entire album seems to float in and out like a movie in terms of dynamics, especially with the French spoken word passages across the different tracks. If I had to find a favorite on ‘Bardo….’, I would find the watery melody of ‘River’ fits the title perfectly and the vocal samples take on the chaotic nature of the water just before the blast beat closes in and the water fills your lungs and sinuses. Perhaps, I favor this track more because of its brevity; it is easier to digest, has a defined beginning, middle and end and just captures an emotion, displays it and lets it go without wearing it out for too long. Check out this title, great display of emotion and vision from a debut album!

Another collection of larger-than-life atmosphere and sound await us on Lycanthia’s ‘Oligarchy’, the bands 2nd full length
and first release in six years. I am immediately confronted by airy and delicate female vocals, something I have never once enjoyed in metal music. Quick to contrast is a harsh and raspy male voice, like a duet between a bear and a butterfly, all the while a plodding rhythm section staggers around and the violins wail their profanities. Where I find this style of music entirely opposed to what I enjoy, I do still retain my sound engineer’s ear and my general appreciation for music. Fans of harmonic metal music that is drenched in reverb, thoughtful melodies, operatic female vocals and mournful violins will find ‘Oligarcy’ is a solid release, full of re-listen value. Just the violin itself, is mesmerizing: all of the nuances are present that are lost on keyboard emulations. While Lycanthia never really creates a groove or attitude that I can sink my teeth into, they certainly make up for it with dark emotion and dramatic presentation.